By Nicole Encalada, International Business Writer
On June 23 2016, it was announced that the United Kingdom would officially cut ties with the European Union (EU) after it initially joined in 1973. After months of speculation and uncertainty, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has begun to outline her plans to leave the EU in a speech given on Tuesday at Lancaster House in London.
Brexit is the result of a referendum in which approximately 30 million British citizens voted. According to BBC News, Britain was very much divided on the issue with England and Wales voting to leave the European Union while Scotland and Northern Ireland mainly voted for staying a part of the EU. Even within their own territory, each country’s results were very close to being equally divided.
The Brexit decision was so controversial that former Prime Minister David Cameron chose to resign from his position, as his views were not in line with the results of the referendum. While Theresa May did not agree with leaving, she decided to take the role and accept Britain’s position.
In her speech, Theresa May listed her priorities which include limiting immigration and exiting jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Britain will also exit the EU’s market for goods and services, planning to replace it with a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The FTA means that the Prime Minister will be able to enter negotiations which are, in most part, free of unpopular compromises surrounding payments of the EU’s budget.
Prime Minster Theresa May has decided she would like to come to an agreement with the EU involving the FTA within the next two years. However, it is likely that this is easier said than done. According to Reuters, The Canada FTA with the EU is expected to have taken seven years to be finalized. Overall, it is unclear how long it will take for Britain to completely separate from the EU since this is the first time a country is exiting the EU. Not to mention, it will be a complicated task to go through treaties and agreements of the last 43 years.
It was noticeable in May’s speech that she was eager to sever ties with the EU as she believed Britain would be “more outward looking than ever before”.
She is striving for the trade deal with the EU to be as free as possible as they are leaving the single market. However, The Economist commented, “Everyone will lose if there is no agreement, but nobody will lose as much as Britain”. Having separated from the EU, Britain is likely to be made an example of when negotiating new trade deals, as the European Commission wants to discourage any more countries from leaving the bloc. Just as well, it is likely that leaders of the EU will not be willing to do Britain any favors.
Of course, they must fear the negative aspects spawned from drafting new trade deals, including a potential recession. The British economy has remained stable since the announcement of Brexit, however the value of the pound has plummeted to a 30-year low.
As of now, the future of Britain remains unclear. Regardless of how each citizen voted, all of Britain should understandably be in a state of confusion.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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