MUNner’s Daily
Published in

MUNner’s Daily

The History and Impact of Brexit

This is the second and final part of a series on the United Kingdom exiting the European Union, termed as Brexit.

Brexit was the one event that arguably defined the 2010’s for the people of the United Kingdom. The verdict chosen by the people shocked many observers, pundits, members of the public and even two Prime Ministers (one who resigned in the wake of the verdict, and the other who succeeded him but could not deliver a Brexit deal that satisfied all parties). As mentioned in the first part of this article, there are a lot of ramifications to the outcome of the 2016 vote that many of the voters themselves did not realize.

British television waves were dominated by the battle between the Remain and Leave campaigns. The former was led by the support of the Labour Party (led by Jeremy Corbyn, who himself had been a pro-Brexit supporter) and the Scottish National Party (led by Scottish PM Nicola Sturgeon) amongst other ideologically similar parties. On the other side, many campaigns centered around an exit of the UK from the EU, with the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) running the strongest pro-Brexit campaign, Leave EU. This was led by Nigel Farage, one of the party’s founders and who had strongly advocated for this even when he held a seat in the EU parliament.

The Tories (Conservative) had a ‘neutral view’ of which outcome they preferred (as they were in power and their party had called the referendum), although the then Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May was in favor of Remain, as were many other Tory MPs. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson was the strongest voice for Brexit amongst the Tories, with a few others. For what it is worth, both campaigns had political figures, celebrities and even the public who pledged allegiance to parties take part, cutting across party lines.

Source: Digital Spy

The list of public figures who extended support for UK to remain in the EU includes (but most certainly is not limited to): business leaders like Sir Richard Branson, Lord Alan Sugar and Lakshmi Mittal, world leaders like Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron (from EU) and Barack Obama, and many celebrities across the entertainment and sports industries, health experts concerned about the future of the flagship National Health S (NHS) which had over 65,000 EU-based health professionals in the workforce, academia and creative industry members.

On the other side you had a smattering of business leaders, most notably Rupert Murdoch, Marina La De Pen (Macron’s rival in France), the then Republican candidate for the 2016 US election- Donald Trump, Bryan Adams, Ringo Starr and Julian Assange amongst others. India was said to have a neutral stance, although reports have cited the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as having said ‘the UK was a gateway to Europe’ for India, indicating a preference for the UK to remain in the EU.

Source: WEF

The verdict of the people came out on 24th June 2016, and it shocked pollsters, casual observers and even a large section of the British public. Almost 52 percent of the population that turned up to vote (33 million of 46 million eligible voters) had voted for the UK to exit the EU. In terms of it’s constituent nation states, Wales and England voted Leave with Scotland and Ireland voting Remain. Within England, we saw major metropolitan areas like London and Manchester voting to stay in the EU while many other parts of England, particularly the Northern half, were overwhelmingly in favor of a change in the status quo.

This vote was one which, according to many, was decided by the older vote. Many more older people turned up to vote than the youngsters (many of whom tended to vote Remain). Despite many claims of Russian interference in this referendum, of which the Leave campaign were the supposed benefits, the result stood and work had to begin with the European Union for an amicable exit.

David Cameron, who had campaigned to prevent ‘an act of economic self-harm’, resigned in the wake of the verdict. He had been in power for six years, and had just won a majority in the 2015 General Elections. He had promised a referendum as part of his manifesto to stave off the Eurosceptics amongst the Tories. But he did not anticipate the swing in votes the Leave Campaign would bring in their favor. Theresa May, another Remain campaigner, was picked as PM ahead of Boris Johnson.

It seems funny in hindsight, but the Conservative Party was the one that had introduced the United Kingdom to the co-operative EEC* while the Labour Party vehemently opposed it in 1975 (including a young Jeremy Corbyn). But now the tables had turned and it was the former who had to bring about a deal with the EU to complete the severing of many ties the Isles had with the mainland continent. Margaret Thatcher, the first female PM of the UK, was also a pro-EEC person, but towards the end of her tenure, she had some reservations about the same.

In the same vein, Theresa May came into power in late 2016 - to deliver an acceptable deal to both the Eurosceptics who wanted a hard Brexit, and the remainders who wanted to arrange a deal where the UK gets the best of what the EU had to offer. Unfortunately for her, Brexit would also prove to be what ended her reign within three years.

First, she tried to use this verdict to call snap polls in 2017 and secure a better majority for the Conservative party- and ended up losing the existing parliament, only to come back into power in alliance with the Northern Ireland party, Democratic Union Party. She tried to pass a possible deal thrice, all rejected by the parliament. The Brexit supporters within the Conservatives were so dissatisfied with May’s attempts to reach out to Labour MPs that they raised an unsuccessful motion to remove her from her post. She even offered to resign if a deal could be passed in Parliament - which also did not happen.

Finally, May handed the baton to Boris Johnson. A person who may appear scrawny and unkempt (but according to some, that is really only for show), but had derived major political mileage by openly backing Brexit from the very beginning. This was his moment to shine - and he did, after many obstacles. By the end of 2020, the EU and the UK had agreed upon a set of rules which would, effectively from 2021, redefine the way the two parties would work. But the question is, what would be the impact on the various fields?

Some of the things mentioned in the agreement are very interesting - for example, exporting burgers and sausages to Europe is not allowed unless they are frozen to minus 18 Celsius - which feels like there is some reasoning to this that we are missing. Doctors, chefs and architects can no longer bring their skills to Europe unless the country they want to go to recognize their qualifications.

International roaming charges will now apply once a British citizen leaves for mainland Europe - although efforts are being made to have a reasonable charge for those situations. Also, the UK will now have to ask permission to access databases pertaining to criminal records and security.

A few main areas which are highlighted as wins for the British autonomy are farming, fishing and law and order. As part of the EU, the UK was part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which aimed at unifying the agricultural market across Europe and provided sustenance to all kinds of farmers in Europe through various schemes, subsidies and programs (to keep it really short - this really is a topic unto itself).

Despite reforms over the years, it has faced criticisms for the fact that the system is still skewed towards farmers with larger land holdings, the policies encouraging environmental degradation, and most importantly for UK based farmers (whose share in the British economy is smaller than farmers in other European nations) being less compensated for their produce. Autonomy is ideally supposed to strengthen British farmers and fishermen, the latter who would have more water access and less competition from European fishermen. Scottish fisherman still believe the current arrangement (with phasing out of Europeans in British waters by 2026) does not benefit them that much.

British law now no longer has to hold itself to the EU standard, however that also means the UK cannot be part of the ECJ (European Court of Justice) and any dispute between the UK and EU will have to go to an independent tribunal. One major sticking point however, is the UK’s relationship with Northern Ireland (who are not part of the UK, but still remain with the EU) and it’s border with Ireland (part of the UK). Currently there is no border between the two Ireland nations, but UK’s exit means that some form of border has to be introduced - which is something both parties want to avoid, so they are negotiating to have something more similar to the pre-Brexit arrangement.

The British territory of Gibraltar, which voted overwhelmingly Remain, was at the heart of an attempt by Spain to claim it as it’s own after Brexit, which was resisted by the locals but both Gibraltar and Scotland have seen people speak up against the verdict, with the latter raising talks of a repeat of the 2014 referendum where at the time 65 percent of Scots elected to stay in the UK.

To sum it all up, this is just the tip of the iceberg in the changes this referendum has led to. Some of the effects of this will not be visible for years, and whether the United Kingdom will be able to return to it’s old glory years and have a place in the new world order, or slide further into irrelevance, is a question only time can answer. But the British have rolled their dice. Whether it falls favorably, we shall see.

EEC refers to the European Economic Community, which was the first attempt at unifying Europe on the lines of economic integration, which preceeded the EU.

Read more

We are now on LinkedIn! Do follow us there!

Follow us on Medium for more for International events, news, MUN tips and tricks, and detailed analysis. Get in touch with us on Social media to stay in the loop -

Facebook| Instagram|Telegram Channel |YouTube|Twitter|LinkedIn.

We also invite guest writers to publish their material via this blog!

Interested in writing for MUNner’s Daily? Go right ahead and fill out this form. We will get back to you soon!



The official blog of MEC MUNSoc, (Model United Nations Society) is an organisation formed by a group of students of MEC with the aim of providing a platform for the students to discuss issues of National and International relevance and on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store