For many, 2016 seems like it was lightyears ago, but the effects of that tumultuous year are far-reaching, both at home and abroad. One of the biggest bombshells of that yesteryear was the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom (UK), and its ultimate result; A decision to leave the European Union. At the time, the international community predicted chaos on the horizon, and today, over two years later, those forecasts seem more likely than ever. So, how did we get here? What are the possible next steps? And how does this all affect me anyway (I mean, I’m in America)?
How Did We Get Here?
I won’t explain the lead up to Brexit, or why the people of the UK voted to leave. If you would like to learn more about that, you can read an article by The Guardian, circa 2016. Today, we will focus on the last two years, and how we have come this far with no agreement on a plan. The years since 2016 have been rife with brutal negotiations, both between parties in the UK and between the UK and the EU. This all recently came to a head when the current plan to leave, spearheaded by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was struck down in Parliament by a wide margin. As a result, lawmakers are left with no agreed-upon exit strategy and an approaching deadline on March 29th. Furthermore, the EU has stated that it’s unwilling to negotiate on another plan. This leads us to our next great conundrum:
What are the Possible Next Steps?
Currently, there are four main options being discussed moving forward. The first is another plan, called “Plan B,” backed, again, by Theresa May. However, according to NBC News, this new plan is really just the old one with a few adjustments that seem unlikely to garner the necessary votes. Nevertheless, May hopes that, as the deadline moves closer, more are willing to budge on her plan.
Another option is to extend the deadline to leave. This would avoid some of the chaos, but offers little real hope, as it simply leaves the problem for another day, with no guarantee that a deal will be reached by then.
Our third option is slightly more radical and calls for another referendum, asking the people of the UK, once again, if they wish to leave the EU. This, however, only solves the problem if the people vote to stay, a departure from their earlier decision. Finally, when March 29th approaches and no deal is reached and no other option is used, there will be a “No Deal Exit” from the EU, an event that is predicted to cause catastrophic harm to the country. The results could be massive economic shrinkage, food and medicine shortages and a stall of all ports.
How Does This All Affect Me Anyway?
“I live in the United States and the UK is so far away, they have funny accents and eat blood pudding, so why should I care?” Well, I ask that everyone put their “Global Citizen” goggles on for a moment. If the UK leaves this situation with no deal, the global economy would be largely disrupted, people would lose their jobs and the US stock market could take a hit. With countries as interconnected as the US and the UK, we are all in this together.