21 Questions: The Brexit Edition
Primer: (Via Wikipedia)“The United Kingdom of Great Britain (comprised of the constituent nations of England, Wales, Scotland — ed.) and Northern Ireland (You might could wanna read up on the partition of Ireland) is a sovereign nation that lies off the north-western coast of the European mainland, it includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland), and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another state — the Republic of Ireland.”
Despite supporting the idea of economic cooperation as a means to preventing another European war, The United Kingdom declined an invitation to join France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg in the signing of 1957’s Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation for the European Economic Community (EEC). The UK changed its mind in the early 60s, but its accession was vetoed by French president Charles de Gaulle in 1963 and again in 1967.
In 1973, the UK finally joined the EEC. In 1975, Prime Minister Harold Wilson organized referendum on Europe, not because he wanted the public to be involved in a comprehensive assessment of Britain’s role in Europe, but because he wanted to calm down the Eurosceptic wing of the Labour Party. Nonetheless, 60% of Britons voted to remain in Europe. But since then, successive British governments would negotiate all kinds of exceptions (e.g. the 1985 rebate agreement, refusing to join the Schengen area or adopt the Euro) to placate Eurosceptics and ultimately keep one foot out the door with Europe.
In January 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron proposed a referendum to appease the racist, anti-immigrant wing of the Conservative Party. In doing so, he opened a Pandora’s box. Decades of anti-European sentiment whipped up by the vehemently anti-intellectual British tabloid press have fermented genuine hostility towards the EU. And yet, nobody in the “Leave” camp has formulated a plan for what would happen next. Not ex-London mayor Boris Johnson, not UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage. Nobody!
So, here’s 21 hard-hitting (and occasionally multi-part) questions that the UK will have to face if it votes to leave the EU.
1. Real talk, when would the exit process (as stipulated by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union) begin? How long would it take?
2. Who will pay for the cost of reprinting and reissuing UK passports without “European Union” on them?
3. What will happen to the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands? More specifically how will Britain stop migrants from entering via the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?
4. What will become of the Northern Ireland peace process, whose progress was undoubtedly aided by cooperation between Ireland, the UK, and EU officials in Brussels?
5. The EU has provided millions of pounds in subsidies for the study and preservation of Welsh, Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, and Cornish. Will post-Brexit governments put forth the same effort towards maintaining the existence of these languages?
6. Will Brexit exacerbate tensions with Spain over Gibraltar? What would become of The Rock’s status as a lucrative hub for shipping, online gambling, and finance? What about the 10,000 Gibraltarians who cross the border every day to go work in Spain?
7. Considering that Britain has the least-regulated labor market in Europe, why are is it a surprise (or a problem) that people (especially young people) from all over Europe have showed up to find jobs or start businesses? What will happen to them? (Have you looked at youth unemployment rates in Spain or Italy?)
8. What will happen to Britons who live or own property in the EU?
9. How will the UK cooperate with the EU on urgent and complex global issues like terrorism and global warming? You know, issues that require a multilateral approach.
10. What if Brexit triggers a wave of withdrawal referendums in other EU countries?
11. What will happen to small businesses that have benefited from the Single Market? I’m talking about distilleries, influential record labels, and dope skate/streetwear brands (Palace = massive). Will they drown in a sea of tariffs?
12. How will Brexit affect larger UK-based businesses that are owned/controlled by companies based in EU member states (e.g. Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mini — all of which are German-owned)?
13. What policies will be enacted attract foreign direct investment?
14. If a majority of Scots vote “Remain,” but are outvoted by English Brexiters, does this open up the possibility of another Scottish independence referendum so that Scotland could take the UK’s place in the EU? And how soon would that happen? TL;DR if Brexit causes the breakup of the UK, will an independent Scottish republic be allowed to take over the UK’s seat and keep chillin’?
15. If Scotland votes to leave United Kingdom, what will become of the Trident Missile program?
16. British universities have benefited greatly from EU membership. Not only because of large EU grants and research subsidies, but thanks to the large number of European students who come to study in the UK. How will Brexit affect higher education? How will these universities make up for budget shortfalls?
17. The 1992 Liberalization of the Air Market paved the way for low-cost travel between EU member states. Does this mean no more soccer tournaments or Mediterranean beach getaways? No more Eurocup coach trips? No more late nights in Ibiza or Aya Napa?
18. The EU Roaming Regulation of 2007 allowed for cheaper cell/data coverage. Will it cost more to make an international call? What about posting holiday pics on Instagram?
19. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows holders to reduced cost or free state-provided healthcare anywhere in the European Economic Area. How will Britons living or traveling in the EU handle healthcare coverage issues post-Brexit?
20. British artists have long enjoyed an outsized commercial and critical influence on the global stage. Visual artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians all benefit from EU arts subsidies. Who would step in to continue subsidizing the arts, the only consistently valuable Britain export since they blessed the world with The Beatles??? As noted in a lengthy Pitchfork editorial, the UK music industry, which relies heavily on access to Europe, outperformed the rest of the British economy by 5% in 2015.
21. What if the UK decides this was all a huge mistake and wants to rejoin the EU? Dead serious, this could happen.
“The tragedy for British politics — for Britain — has been that politicians of both parties have consistently failed, not just in the 1950s but on up to the present day, to appreciate the emerging reality of European integration. And in doing so they have failed Britain’s interests.” — Tony Blair, 2001