In June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) and it has been more than five years since this major decision was taken. The European Union (EU) has been a central figure from the last 20 years of a tenacious European continent that represented how far Europe has come from its pre-1950 era.
After it was created in 1993 with six member states it has expanded to over 27 countries that came to represent the symbol of liberalism and a more interconnected European continent. It was a great move by all European nations to come forwards and move away from the ultra-nationalistic ideologies that dominated Europe in the early half of the twentieth century.
When David Cameroon was the prime minister he proposed the idea of this referendum after years of debate within British politics whether the UK should be a part of the EU anymore. In 2013 the prime minister suggested a nationwide vote would put an end to this discussion once and for all. David Cameroon was accredited to come up with this resolution and since he was pro-EU, he thought that the rest of the UK would also heavily vote in favor but as things turned out it was a big error of judgment on his part.
There has always been a group of fringe parties across Europe who hold euro-skeptic views and in many places like the UK, they have been pretty successful. The UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) was at the forefront of this movement and claimed that the European Union was robbing the UK of its sovereignty, wealth and undermined its existence. It wasn’t the only party in the UK but it came into prominence when its members got elected in the European Parliament despite being an Anti-EU party. This was the trend that was seen all across Europe since the beginning of the new decade. A coalition of fringe right-wing euro-skeptic parties was becoming mainstream. This was the culmination of years of the rise of right-wing extremism with more people demanding tougher laws alongside the influx of refugees that were coming into Europe due to the Syrian civil war and subsequently its impact.
The main aim of this referendum was to take back the British sovereignty from Brussels back to London amid a growing call from within British society to end the flow of immigrants pouring into the UK. This might have sounded a great idea in the beginning but because the EU is the largest partner of the UK its economy was likely to be hit. Many factors wouldn't go in favor of the UK leaving the EU and one of them was that they would lose access to the EU single market, a tax-free trade of goods and for millions of British citizens, it meant an easy and convenient way of doing business, along with that there were no restrictions on freedom of movements of people to and fro. The overall impact on Brexit was a fall of the pound sterling in the initial months and a lot of chaos as a business was trying to figure out what lies ahead and people with EU citizenship were in jeopardy about their lives.
Brexit shouldn't be looked at as an isolated event but as a growing trend that was seen after the refugee influx into Europe. It disrupted the entire political scene in Europe and many nations that adopted a very liberal and pro-democracy model of government were suddenly caught in a new ideological battle between the right-wing and those who wanted to keep them away. Post-2016 many right-wing leaders were appointed as heads of states and at many places like France and Germany right-wing parties formed a coalition which was a rare scene before. The Brexit movement can also be considered as an offshoot of this right-wing module across Europe post refugee crisis.
The vote to leave the EU did dominate England and wales but places like Scotland and Northern Ireland voted heavily to remain in the union. This caused a wide rift between Scotland and Northern Ireland. After the UK choose to leave the EU there were many demands for Scotland to break from the UK and this movement was lead by Scottish National Party(SNP) along with smaller parties. The Major problem arose in Northern Ireland that shares the border with the Republic of Ireland. Earlier there was free movement of people across the 400km border but after the pullout, this border was considered to remain a hostile place and a few skirmishes took place. Northern Ireland had a very dark past and when the UK decides to leave many politicians feared that it might resurrect the old demons of the 90s but the British government along with the EU members eventually struck a deal that would allow Northern Ireland to keep many policies and regulation as they were.
As I have mentioned before that this vote to leave the EU was primarily taken to get globalize Britain and to put UK as an independent country rather than a bloc of nations as in the case of the EU. These nationalistic sentiments have been growing in the UK and choosing the EU was a bold statement. After the deadline of 31st January 2020 when the UK officially left the EU many trade deals were signed between UK and Australia that included more British exports to Australia and a similar deal was signed with Japan. This move from the UK to move beyond the borders of Europe and to restore its supremacy has been a growing trend for many years and with conservatives in power, this put Britain first move will continue to expand.
The UK initially suffered few losses and its reputation was hit in international politics but the right-wing government thought this is a necessary step towards a free Britain. The UK since has improved when it comes to its economy and trade but more importantly, Brexit main selling point of immigration will be in London's and not in Brussel's control. It has only been more than a year since the UK and EU have officially formulated a negotiation but things seem to be on the right track. The UK has a long way to go establish itself in the same manner as it was before Brexit and as Covid 19 looms large with Britain experiencing multiple lockdowns that will again push Britain’s economy in the backseat. A couple of months down the road and the UK will try to manage the pandemic and after that, it will be interesting what policies will this government take to ensure that the UK doesn't have to face any setbacks shortly.