Brexit means Brexit – and what a confusing affair it all is! Whether you are for or against the UK leaving the European Union, it is arguably the biggest political shake-up the country has faced in decades. As such, many people remain divided over whether or not it is even a good idea!
It is hard to find hard facts on Brexit without straying into political bias – so we have strived to pull together a series of interesting facts about Brexit for you to help illustrate what it is, why it is happening, and what both sides of the debate have to say.
Brexit is an abbreviated word formed from and meaning ’British Exit’.
The UK joined the European Union in 1973. However, in 2016, the majority of voters in a UK-wide referendum voted to leave the Union. This started the process which has become known as Brexit.
The voting split fairly evenly, with 51.9% in favor of leaving the EU.
This led to a political divide in the country where some are referred to as ‘Brexiteers’ or ‘Remainers’. The latter of these have been referred to as ‘remoaners’, satirically, in the right-wing press.
The UK actually tried to join the European Union three times. Back as it was in 1961, Britain was refused entry at the start of the decade, before being rebuffed again in 1967. In 1973, their application was finally accepted.
Brexit has remained a tricky affair which has resulted in back-and-forth discussions with the heads of the EU and its member states. Finding a ‘deal’ for the UK to exit resulted in renegotiation over borders and trading rights.
At the time of writing, the UK will technically leave the European Union as of January 2021. However, many have felt this should be extended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A political organization known as the ‘Brexit Party’ was started in November 2018, initially led by Catherine Blaiklock. Ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage would eventually take over. The party’s main focuses were on ensuring that Brexit went ahead.
Theresa May, who became Conservative Party leader and de facto Prime Minister after the resignation of David Cameron, coined the phrase ‘Brexit Means Brexit’.
May’s time as Prime Minister during Brexit talks was criticized due to struggling negotiations. Amid the crisis, May would announce a snap general election, during which the Conservative Party lost seats.
However, in 2019, a further snap election saw new leader Boris Johnson claim back a Conservative majority. Johnson also cemented a ‘deal’ in 2020, however, negotiations with the EU continue.
All EU countries pay into the Union annually to retain membership. Part of the argument against staying in the Union stemmed from the overall cost of this membership.
The gross contribution paid into the EU by the United Kingdom was reportedly £20 billion in 2018.
Several pro-Brexit organizations and voters argued that the UK’s membership costs outweighed the benefits they received.
Remainers, meanwhile, felt that leaving the EU would result in a breakdown of laws and rights, and that trade routes would have to be built completely from scratch.
Several other countries or member states continue to fund the Union. There has been concern that Brexit may inspire other countries to launch their own splits from the EU, with France and Spain reportedly having considered such measures – allegedly.
Sir Edward ‘Ted’ Heath was the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of the UK succeeding in joining the EU in 1973.
The UK joined at the same time as Denmark and the Republic of Ireland, on New Year’s Day.
The EU was formerly known as the European Economic Community, or EEC.
Charles De Gaulle was Head of the French State at the time the UK first tried to enter negotiations to join the EU. De Gaulle blocked the UK’s entry as a result of the British’s submarine missile policies.
At the time of negotiation, the press published lots of news regarding ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ Brexits.
Generally, a ‘soft’ Brexit came to be known as the UK retaining a closeness with the EU in some form. For example, this may have included retaining certain trading rights and retaining some EU laws.
However, a ‘hard’ Brexit was preferred by many voters and MPs. This would see the UK removed completely from the Union, which some ‘leave’ voters would argue is what they voted for.
Many people voted for and against Brexit in the name of business. Many felt that removing the UK from the EU’s trading zones and single market would be beneficial. Those voting to stay in the EU, however, considered it to be a safer option.
Some voted to leave the Union in an effort to influence stricter border control for the UK. Others may have wished to vote to secure Britain its own status outside of Europe.
Despite the UK having agreed to leave the EU formally in January 2020, there is an 11-month transition period. It is thought this was set up to give all sides of Brexit to come to terms with changes.
However, the coronavirus pandemic took over many people’s lives shortly after Brexit was agreed. There is nothing in place to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020.
There is still the chance that the UK will leave the EU without a formal deal by the end of 2020. This would effectively mean that all ties with the Union would sever. Those in favor of a ‘soft’ Brexit are keen to try and keep some ties to allow for an easier transition.
Both England and Wales voted in the majority to leave the EU. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. In fact, 62% of Scottish voters wished for membership to stay the same.
These numbers have led some to suggest that Scotland, under Nicola Sturgeon, may continue to pursue a second independence referendum following the pandemic. This would mean that Scotland could split off from the UK as an independent nation.
Do you have any interesting facts about Brexit that we’ve missed? Share them in the comments below!