LONDON – You may have caught the news today about a Brexit deal occurring between the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, & Northern Ireland) and the European Union. As reported by the BBC at 17:00 GMT the UK and the EU have agreed to the “draft text” on a Brexit agreement sending the draft to cabinet. Prime Minister Theresa May has set for 14:00 local on Wednesday seeking backing from her ministers. This marks the significant momentum of the referendum process sought but the British people when they voted in 2016 whereby a margin of 3.78% voted in favor of the UK leaving the European Union. The United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum, a.k.a. “Brexit”, deal is slated to be struck before March 29th, 2019. Prime Minister May is fighting an uphill battle.
The margins of the vote show the level of division within the UK’s population as to its decision to leave and the history behind Brexit is long. The first division comes in the form of age demographics. The European Union was created on November 1st, 1993 in the Netherlands as 28, maybe soon to be 27, Euro-zone nations joined in an economic, military, and social collective known now as the European Union. Countries maintained some sovereignty but much of it was negotiated on a country-by-country basis. Members also relinquished some freedoms in business production, governmental process, and oversight.
As we have been experiencing in the US larger numbers of young voters are hitting the polls as the internet and social media connect more people to campaigning than ever before and in some ways unavoidably. These young 20 somethings internet users have only ever known the EU and the concept of change dissuades many. Issues like constriction of international travel, trade losses, and military costs scare the young voter, particularly when pro-EU parties package Brexit as an economic hell for the UK while not skinning much off of the back of the EU.
Yet this isn’t entirely true. Tariffs, sanctions, and other market manipulators imposed by the EU close off many doors for the UK and its global economic expansion. As the U.S. is to much of the world the UK represents the financial powerhouse and waypoint of the EU. It’s the gateway for international banking and lending for the rest of the member states. Yet leaving the EU provides a greater opportunity for the citizens of the UK to trade openly and without restriction, particularly so with its long-standing ally the US who is increasing its global value rapidly under the leadership of President Donald Trump.
Further miring the debate to leave is also a cultural issue. The UK is a fiercely proud nation and nationalism is a trait well-respected by most Britons but some do not share the same anti-globalism outlook. The voting demographic between 35-50 for example are the voters who remember the formation of the EU and have experienced the changes are less warm to the EU’s rules and regulations that stifle business in the UK but are also split on whether leaving is the better choice.
The older the voter, the more likely they were to vote to leave the European Union. Again relating back to its sister, the U.S., the UK has borne an undue burden of costs and other contributions to the EU in fees, taxes, and military support in lieu of contributions from economically troubled member stated. There is great public distaste for the debts being incurred and a push to get out of it is palpable. Industry, resources, intellectual property, and more are all fed and shared by the EU member states and the UK has felt that she has contributed disproportionately to its peers. All of this spurring a heated debate of whether the UK would be better off in the global picture if it stayed with the status quo.
The Next Step
With job loss, free-movement (interstate travel), and regulation issues on the line for the UK the negotiation officials of both the EU and the UK have come to an agreement on preliminary text. The British Cabinet will meet tomorrow and where PM May hopes to gain the support of Parliament. There is likely to be more rounds of negotiation before every detail is ironed out but this step takes some of the pressure off of the Prime Minister, at least until the the Customs Union Agreement (Cabinet’s biggest non-starter), the most contentious part of the negotiations, is addressed in Parliament.