Just over 4 months ago, Theresa May triggered Article 50, beginning the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Last month, negotiations finally started after a turbulent election. By midnight tonight, EU countries must have submitted their applications for the EU agencies located in London.
Be warned: opinions incoming.
So far, I can’t say things have gone swell for the UK.
Now, before I delve into David Davis’ quite frankly awful negotiation technique, I do need to talk about what have been positives in the last four months. Immediately after triggering our withdrawal, the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ (as it is colloquially known) was introduced into Parliament to allow a smooth transition between the end of the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction and our own existing laws. The bill essentially placed all EU law into Britain’s own laws so that when negotiations are complete, Parliament can remove or modify any part they liked. This is certainly a positive since many remain voters feared that Brexit would mean any EU laws that protected them would be rescinded. However, this approach does seem a bit lacklustre, especially when one of the main slogans of the Brexit campaign was to “take back our laws”. By the time we’ve completed negotiations and everything has been set in place, it could be 5 years before ‘it’s a good time’ for Parliament to modify the Great Repeal Bill and ‘take back our laws’.
To be honest though, not many positives have come out of the process so far.
Since the referendum result was announced, the value of the Pound has not regained much ground compared to the Dollar or Euro. This means that if you’re going on holiday anytime soon you’ll get less foreign currency than you could before June 2016.
After losing her majority in the snap election, you’d think Theresa would’ve picked up the hint that ‘hard Brexit’ isn’t necessarily what all her supporters want? Think again.
Instead, May pushed ahead with her stance and set forth with the negotiations.
Now, you’d even think that Britain’s negotiating team would take into account that they are the ones that must untangle themselves from the EU’s agencies?
Instead, Davis (Brexit Secretary and chief negotiator) stormed into Brussels and set out Britain’s demands, some of which seem outrageous considering the circumstances.
Firstly, it is in my opinion that we should pay our ‘divorce bill’, however I do think it should be an agreed bill between the EU and the UK. As an integral member of the union for over 40 years, we’ve invested a significant amount into the EU budget. One of the reasons many disliked the EU’s economics was because much of this investment was diverted elsewhere without any benefit to the UK. However, this funding can be seen directly if you travel between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. The West Coast Mainline was upgraded into its current electrified condition due to £66 million of funding from the EU. Even if you’re convinced that we put far too much into the pot, the UK has already put its name down for a number of other EU projects. We cannot expect the union to allow a hole in its budget to go amiss without transition. I mean, isn’t that what Theresa wants? A smooth transition?
On the subject of a smooth transition, No.10 announced today that freedom of movement would end as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 29th March 2019. This was due to much confusion over whether immigration from the EU to the UK would end abruptly or whether there would be a ‘smooth transition’. Just another example of the government’s unclear Brexit policy which has left many people nervous. Personally, I disagree that we should leave the single market and customs union – we’ll be sitting right next to one of the largest free trade areas. And the EU is in no particular rush to strike a deal with UK. In the months since the referendum, the EU has managed to sign a free trade deal with both Canada and Japan, opening their markets even more.
As for EU citizens, they should be guaranteed the exact same rights as any British expats living in other EU members. Many, including some of my friends, attend the University of Leicester and face much uncertainty.
I shall be keeping up to date as to whether Theresa May continues on the path she has laid out for this country or if she concedes to a growing resentment to the thought of a ‘hard Brexit’.