Brexit, the European divorce saga that has been going on for years, has created a lot of headaches for politicians and ordinary people on both sides of the Channel. The process of Britain leaving the European Union is now heading towards another one of its deadlines while London and Brussels are trying to separate with an agreement. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed there will be an exit on October 31, deal or no deal. Brits and their Euro neighbors are bracing for another jolt in the continent’s economic and financial system. Cryptocurrencies, independent of centralized political decisions, can provide some stability and utility in these uncertain times in the fiat world.
Also read: Here’s How Europeans Can Deal With Negative Interest Rates
Britain’s Exit From United Europe
Britain’s relationship with Europe has never been straightforward or unambiguous. “Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off” is a newspaper headline that was probably never printed but it very well describes the British attitude towards the mainland. And it’s not like Europeans haven’t given as good as they’ve gotten. United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community was vetoed twice by France, in 1963 and 1967, with General De Gaulle citing the British hostility towards European construction, lack of interest in the common market as well as the economic differences that in his view made Britain incompatible with the rest of Europe.
However, at the time the majority of the British people and their political representatives wanted to join what has since become the European Union. They achieved that at the third attempt, years after De Gaulle’s resignation and death, with the U.K. becoming a member of the European Communities (EC) on Jan. 1, 1973 and confirming its full membership in 1975, in the nation’s first referendum. Back then, all major political parties, the mainstream media, and most importantly the majority of Britons supported the continuation of membership – over 67% voted to stay in. Besides, London managed to negotiate a list of opt-ins and opt-outs of key European policies including the Schengen Agreement, the Economic and Monetary Union, the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and even win the U.K. rebate.
Another poll on Britain’s EU membership decades later produced a quite different outcome, though. Over half of the electorate that took part in the referendum on June 23, 2016 (51.9%) voted in favor of leaving the European Union. Despite the non-binding nature of the referendum, the British government kept its promise to implement the result. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party and British prime minister at the time, who campaigned for remaining in the EU, resigned and was succeeded by his home secretary Theresa May in the summer of 2016. She initiated the EU withdrawal process on March 29, 2017, which was expected to complete within the next two years. Britain triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
Deal or No Deal, That Is the Question
Britain’s second female prime minister stepped down in July after the withdrawal agreement her cabinet reached with the EU was rejected three times in parliament earlier this year. She was then replaced by her former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson whose government continued the negotiations with Brussels. Johnson, a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign, stated that the United Kingdom would exit the European Union on Oct. 31, 2019, regardless of whether a deal has been reached by that date or not.
With British lawmakers blocking a no-deal Brexit, however, Johnson proposed a general election on October 15 but the motion failed. He also asked the Queen to prorogue parliament from September 10 in an effort to prevent parliamentarians from stopping the exit without agreement by narrowing the window in which they could do so. In the meantime, a string of court cases have challenged the prime minister’s actions. In the absence of a written British constitution, this could create legal confusion.
Brexit has sown discord in British society and posed questions about the future of the European Union in general. Euro skeptics and pro-Europeanists span the political spectrum in Britain. While the major political forces, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, each have their claims regarding the terms of the agreement with the EU, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and other factions directly seek a reversal of Brexit through a second referendum on the matter.
Brexit’s Economic Impact
There is a widespread consensus among economists that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is already negatively affecting its economy. The costs associated with the vote result and the withdrawal process amount to between 2 and 2.5% of the U.K.’s gross domestic product, according to various studies conducted last year. Analysts have calculated…