The Big European Break-Up Pt. 2

By | April 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Beyond AEGEE | Tags: , , , , ,

To Brexit or not to Brexit: that is the question. Though this be Brexit, yet there is method in‘t.  Can one desire too much of a Brexit? The thing we call a Brexit would be just the same if we called it by any other name. Despite the badly quoted bits of Shakespeare, people do wonder: should the United Kingdom leave the European Union? What is the thought behind it? Do people think too much of it? And why did people come up with such a lame and catchy name for this? Some of these questions, and more, will be answered.

AEGEEan2 Britain VotesQu’est-ce qu’est un Brexit?

The word ‘Brexit’ is a contraction of the words Britain and exit, and refers to a possible event of the UK, colloquially dubbed Britain, to leave or exit the European Union. This decision will be submitted to the British public in a nonbinding referendum on Thursday, the 23rd of June 2016, meaning that British Members of the Parliament could block a Brexit. Regardless of a possible block, British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18, who are resident in the UK, UK nationals living abroad, and members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar can vote on polling day on the following question, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”.

Doctor ehm… Politician Who?

The British public seems to be quite evenly split on the matter of leaving the EU. The same goes for the MPs of the ruling Conservative Party in the UK Parliament. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), AEGEEan3 Cameron Junkerwho won 12.6% of the popular vote in the 2015 UK General Elections, is in favour of secession, just as several MPs of the Labour Party, the largest opposition party, and of the right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (Wheeler).

While the Conservative Party has pledged to remain neutral in the referendum campaign, British Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron, has come out in support for staying in the EU. The Labour Party, Scottish National Party (SNP), Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) and Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales), being the second, third, fourth and seventh largest parties in the UK, have all spoken out in favour of staying in the EU. The EU, not willing to see its second largest economy leave the Union, would also not want the UK to leave (Wheeler).

ACTOR (amazed): Why?

AEGEEan4 John BullThe two main arguments in Britain for leaving the EU centre on economics and border security. Pro-secession groups state that the EU imposes too many rules on businesses and charges billions of pounds annually in membership fees, which both reduce, if not cripple, economic output in Britain. Another big issue is the EUs relatively loose restrictions on travel between its member countries. The pro-secession camp advocates stronger borders for the UK and more direct control of those borders by the UK government (Wheeler).

The two main British arguments for staying in the EU, also centre around economics and border security. Anti-secession groups point out that it is economically more beneficent to stay in the EU, because of free-trade agreements between member states and those between the EU and non-member countries (Wheeler).

Regarding border security, some British politicians point out the importance of collectively managing the flow of immigrants throughout the EU. Others point out that staying in the EU is critical in order to maintain the British border control in Calais, France. This is crucial, because the UK is not obligated to provide asylum to people who are not in Britain, like those who are prevented from travelling to Britain at the UK border checkpoint in Calais (Wintour).
AEGEEan1 Cameron David Chameleon

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, had initially resisted calls for a ‘Brexit referendum’, but changed his mind in 2013 due to the level of influence of EU policies in Britain. After the Conservatives won the UK General Election in 2015, they pushed for a referendum, which started negotiations between the UK and the EU.

Cameron has recently made a deal with the other EU member states that will go into effect should Britain vote for staying in the EU (Wheeler). This deal gives the UK more control over its own border security, limits further influence of EU regulations on Britain and other member states, and protects UK financial institutions, most notably those in the City of London and the Bank of England. This deal, in turn, has made Prime Minister Cameron argue for staying in the European Union.

The terms of our divorce

AEGEEan5 BritannicaIf a majority of Britons should vote in favour of leaving the EU, then the United Kingdom would not have seceded on the next day. Even if British MPs would not block the referendum, Article 50 of the EU’s ‘divorce clause’ states that secession from the European Union would be preceded by a two-year negotiation phase (Karnitschnig). As a member state, Britain has signed a lot of treaties with the EU over the years that would require many months of redefining, renegotiation, and rewriting, before any secession could be finalised. However, since a secession from the European Union has never happened before, there are hardly any provisions.

AEGEEan6 EuropaWhat do the AEGEEans say?

Being a youth forum that advocates for European integration, some AEGEE locals are involved in projects to discuss the ‘Brexit referendum’. AEGEE-Canterbury, as a chief example, has organised a debate regarding the UK’s membership within the EU, and has been actively campaigning for staying in the EU. AEGEE-Manchester, to name another, is trying to organise an event in May that would try to focus on the positive aspects of the relation between the United Kingdom and the European Union.


Written by Willem Laurentzen, AEGEE-Nijmegen

Works Cited

Karnitschnig, Matthew, and Nicholas Hirst. “A long, costly and messy divorce.” Politico 2 Mar. 2016: n. pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Wheeler, Brian, and Alex Hunt. “The UK’s EU referendum: All you need to know.”BBC 24 Mar. 2016: n. pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Wintour, Patrick, and Anushka Asthana. “French minister: Brexit would threaten Calais border arrangement.” The Guardian 3 Mar. 2016:n. pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

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