For the past two years, the word Brexit has been flung around in the news and on Facebook and Twitter. It’s probably also leaked its way onto Instagram – I know I’ve definitely raved about it. So what is Brexit? What’s actually happened since the referendum? And, what are our plans for the future? We all know that we’re leaving the EU, but what does that mean for us, the students and soon-to-be young professionals living in a post-Brexit Britain.
On June 23rd 2016, 71.8% of the population left their laptops, switched off their televisions and took to the polls. In one of the highest voter turn-outs in the last few years, the public voted on whether or not to leave the EU – a collection of 28 countries which together have a single market, meaning free trade and free movement.
The result was incredibly close, with the leave campaign winning by 51.9% to remain’s 48.1%. With the outcome being so close, many politicians, activists and members of the public asked for a second referendum, also suggesting that 16-year-olds should be eligible to vote. However, the government pushed forward, former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, and Theresa May took his place.
Of course, June 23rd 2016 was over two years ago and, as a country, we have still not left the EU. This is because negotiations need to take place between the British government and the European Union. Once the public had decided to leave the EU, Theresa May had to trigger Article 50 – a legal process between the country that is leaving and the remaining countries. However, this had never happened before and understanding how it would work took time. As a result, Article 50 was not officially triggered until March 29th 2017.
Once Article 50 was triggered, it was agreed that Britain would exit the EU two years later, at 11pm on March 29th 2019. This was, and still is, the divorce date for Britain and the EU. However, Theresa May is currently calling for the possibility of pushing this deadline back, as an official Brexit deal is yet to be made.
The Brexit deal will be the deal made between Britain and the EU regarding important issues such as what will happen to free movement and what is happening with the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Another key issue is what will happen to the EU citizens currently living in Britain and vice versa for UK citizens living in the EU. These questions are still being asked and a formal decision still hasn’t been made.
Recently, Theresa May released a Brexit plan called “The Chequers Plan”, named after the Prime Minister’s country estate. However, it didn’t go down well with remain supporters, some leave supporters and many members of the EU governing bodies. Following the refusal of her plan, Theresa May demanded respect for Britain from the EU. Something, which once again, did not go down well.
Throughout the past two years, many lies have been told regarding Brexit. The campaigners for Brexit told the public ‘facts’ which have since been disproved or abandoned since the leave campaign won. Beneath is a breakdown of these facts, or lies if you prefer, and what we currently understand regarding the situation; which honestly, is not much at all.
“Project Fear” was a term coined by Brexiteers who claimed remain supporters were creating an atmosphere of fear in order to keep the UK in the EU. Iain Duncan Smith wrote an article for the Telegraph this August where he blamed remain supporters for “scare-mongering” the public into believing that Brexit would be difficult to achieve and ultimately a bad thing.
In similar news, Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, described the process of leaving the EU as being the “easiest thing in human history“. However, with the confusion over what Brexit is, the confusion over resigning politicians and every other question members of the public have, it’s safe to say that this is not the case.
Another Brexit lie that’s been to hard to swallow was the Brexit bus. As reported by The Independent, no, they aren’t giving £350m to the NHS – they won’t even be receiving £350m back from the EU – as Boris Johnson previously claimed. Such claims were pasted on the side of a bus, which was driven all over the country. But, from leaving the single market to the other expenses that come with Brexit, we likely won’t save much, if any money.
The single market was a massive point of argument between the two camps. Remain supporters were frightened about what would happen to businesses if we left the free market, whilst Brexiteer Daniel Hannan told the public that ‘nobody… is threatening our place in the single market’. However, since Brexit became a reality, Theresa May has informed the country that we will leaving the single market provided by the EU, another lie reported in the Independent’s “Brexit Lies”.
Bird brained remainers? pic.twitter.com/t7BeEwq3GS
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) October 27, 2018
The last, and possibly most important lie told by Brexit campaigners: the UK is often let out of major European Union decisions. VoteWatch Europe has since reported that out of 2,601 legislative acts, the UK had been in the majority of over 95%. This was an argument put forward by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP for North East Somerset. However, his latest set of tweets about ‘bird-brain remainers’ got him in trouble on Twitter after a group of remain supporters confronted him, dressed as chickens.
As for the future following Brexit: it’s murky. While the Prime Minister tells the public that a decision is near to being made, nobody is really sure what that decision entails. So, for now, we’re just hoping that students will still be able to enjoy studying abroad, for a soft border with Northern Ireland and maybe a second referendum with no lies and the chance to please, please, please stay in the European Union.