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  • Leopold Huber

Brexit - Did the UK Make the Right Choice?

On the 31st of December 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union after years of political struggle and many referendums. But why did the UK leave the union and how has this affected the country?

The referendum on the UK’s membership was scheduled for June 2016 by David Cameron, who believed he could successfully campaign for remaining in the EU and thus keep his promise of a referendum (without leaving and facing the harsh consequences). According to the results, 52% of voters voted to leave the union and 48% wanted to stay. The reason for the high number of euro-sceptics was believed to be the recent 2008 financial crash and the 2015 European migrant party. In 2017 article 50 was triggered, which officially started the path to Britain's exit of the EU.

After all of this, factions of British government were still disagreeing with each other and only in 2019 was the deadlock broken, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Premier Leo Varadkar settled on an agreement on how to deal with the British-Irish border. The crisis emerged as the EU has open borders within, but closed borders with nations outside the union. However, both Ireland and the UK wanted open borders with each other. This would require the UK to keep its borders open with the EU or for Ireland to close its borders to the EU. Neither side wanted this. In the end, a compromise was achieved that meant the Irish border would remain open, and products would be checked and taxed when entering Ireland from other countries.

After Boris Johnson was elected in 2019 under the slogan “Get Brexit Done” he rushed the process for Brexit and on the 31. December 2020 the UK officially left the EU with a deal providing free trade rights for some goods and limited participation in EU programs.

Since then, the numbers are in. Brexit, for the UK at least, was a failure. Since 2019 the price of food has risen substantially, the UK is facing a major labour shortage and trade has stagnated. No wonder that 62% of Britons think that Brexit has been “more than a failure” and only 8% think it was a success. While some might think that these crises might have been caused by the war in Ukraine or the Covid-19 pandemic, this is not true. The price shocks have mostly dissipated, and global trade is at pre-pandemic levels.


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