On Thursday 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) voted in a referendum to decide whether or not to remain a member of the European Union (EU). Over three years later, MPs (Members of Parliament) are still debating how to successfully implement this decision. The big question is, however, why did the citizens of the UK vote to leave in the first place? The Team at Scrambled Eggs School in Milan have a put together a short outline of all the facts.
‘Brexit’ is the term coined to describe the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The word Brexit is in fact a shortened version of ‘British Exit.’ In June 2016, 72.2% of voters went to their Polling Station (the place where you are registered to vote) to cast their vote on whether or not the UK should remain in the EU. The results were not only unexpected, but extremely close, with 51.9% of people voting to leave and 48.1% voting to remain! Brexit evidently divided the nation.
What encouraged people to vote the way that they did? In the months leading up to the vote, both supporters and opponents of the EU referendum led various campaigns to outline what the pros and cons would be if we decided to leave or remain in the EU. Here are the for and against arguments briefly outlined.
The For Argument
The push to leave the EU was advocated mostly by the UK Independence Party who argued that Britain’s participation in the EU restricted the country. The Party’s main arguments centred around: regaining border control and reclaiming business rights. Additionally, they argued that the high EU membership fees could be used use to benefit the UK, in particular to fund the NHS (the UK’s healthcare system).
The Against Argument
The Conservative Party, including David Cameron, the Party leader and the Prime Minister at the time, were strongly in favour of remaining in the EU. Their arguments against leaving were predominately related to business benefits; being a part of the EU allows the UK to participate in the single market and therefore benefit from economic strength and security. In addition, they argued that immigration helps develop the workforce and fuels public service projects.
In response to the results of the EU referendum, the UK invoked Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty on 29th March 2017. In doing so, the UK made its break from the EU official. The UK then had two years to negotiate a departure with the other member states and was officially due to leave on 29th March 2019. However, British MPs failed to come to a unanimous decision and the Article 50 process was extended to 12th April 2019 and then subsequently, a further six months, to 31st October 2019. As things stand, the UK is set to leave the EU on 31st October, unless a withdrawal agreement is ratified by both the UK and the EU before this date; as a result of which, the UK would leave before the deadline.
Until the UK’s exit becomes legal, the UK is still subject to EU laws. What will happened between now and then is completely up in the air. There is support for a second referendum, talks of extending the October deadline and even advocates for a no-deal Brexit (to leave the EU immediately and without any agreements in place). At the moment, the UK’s future in the EU is unknown.
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BREXIT – What is it? | Reading Comprehension
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