Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Britain seems to be making headlines around the world for its messy politics, but is it really going to leave the European Union? The short answer is yes.

If you don’t already know, “Brexit” refers to Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, which is supposed to occur on March 29, 2019.

Back in June 2016, Britain hosted a referendum on whether the country should split from the EU, in which exiting won by a narrow margin of 3.8 percent. Despite negotiations between Britain and the EU that have been ongoing since March 2017, the logistics of the departure are not yet concrete as Prime Minister Theresa May’s “exit plan” was rejected by Parliament several days ago.

So, what exactly does Britain gain by exiting? In the short run, not much. The EU functions as one entity in terms of economics: many nations use the Euro (Great Britain being the biggest exception since they retained the English Pound as their currency), and there are no trade barriers between states. Leaving the EU will undoubtedly cause some economic turmoil as Great Britain has become a prominent global financial center in part due to being in the EU. For instance, Britain is expected to experience a 4 to 9 percent economic decline once it leaves the union, depending on the stipulations of the exit plan. 

However, Britain’s exit from the EU would mean they would cease paying membership fees. Last year, Britain shelled out a net £8.5 billion to contribute to the EU budget, but it’s still too early to determine whether the costs of membership fees outweigh the benefits of free-trade and access to more European investment opportunities.

Membership to the EU also gives Britain access to trade without barriers at the cost of having to abide to trade conditions set by the EU. Leaving the EU would mean Britain giving up a decent amount of bargaining power with other countries, and it would limit access to trade with the rest of the world. On the other hand, Britain would get to negotiate their own trade deals, which raises the possibility of increased revenue from tariffs set on imported goods.

One of the biggest reasons Britain is choosing to leave the EU is because they want autonomy over migration. Currently, Britain has to abide by the migration laws of the EU, which state that anyone from a member state is free to live within the United Kingdom, and those in Britain benefit from the same laws. In recent years, Britain has seen a surge in migrants coming from Eastern and Southern Europe, which some deem to be beneficial for the nation while others believe the migration makes it more difficult for British citizens to acquire housing or jobs. The unanimous decision seems to be that Britain should have control over its own borders regardless of the public’s opinion on the influx in migrants.

With regard to borders, Britain’s exit would mean the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would become a “hard border,” meaning there would be customs posts, surveillance cameras and checkpoints prior to crossing the border. Many work on one side of the border and live on the other, so a hard border would make it increasingly difficult and time-consuming to travel from one side to the other. To prevent this from happening, the UK developed a “backstop” that effectively means the UK will stay in customs union with the EU, and Northern Ireland will abide by the single-market rules. It is unclear whether the UK will be able to implement this backstop, however, if they are unable to make an agreement with the EU before leaving. 

Regardless of the pros or cons of Britain leaving the EU, Britain is set to exit on March 29 with or without a plan. Theresa May is currently in the process of developing another plan as her previous one got rejected on January 15, but Parliament recently voted to block a “no deal” exit; although the plan is not legally binding, it puts more pressure on May to draft a new plan that appeals to Parliament.

Morgan Kleidon

Northeastern '22

Hi! I'm from Chicago, IL, and I love to keep up with current events, specifically ones regarding economic issues. In my free time, I film videos with friends, find fun places to eat, and play around with makeup.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️