There is a lot out there about Brexit, and the sheer amount of information is pretty overwhelming. So in this “Brexit Explained” post, i will share some of the basics of what you really need to know. If you know this stuff, everything else you watch or read about should more or less make sense.
1. What does Brexit mean?
When there was talk about Greece leaving the European Union, it was referred to as Grexit. Similarly Brexit is a short way of referring to the potential Brit Exit from the European Union.
2. What is the European Union (EU)?
The European Union is a political and economic union, or club, of 28 countries located in Europe. The EU consists of the:
- European Commission (Brussels)
- Run by 28 European Commissioners, one from each of the 28 member countries
- Oversees the way money is spent by the EU
- Has the ability to introduces new laws
- European Parliament (Brussels)
- Consists of 751 MEPs – Member of European Parliament
- Votes on laws proposed by the European Commission
- European Council (Brussels)
- This is where representatives of the member country governments meet and talk about stuff
- European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
- Ensures that the laws of the EU are followed, and sorts out any disputes between the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Council
2. How will Brexit be determined?
Through a referendum which will take place on Thursday 23rd June, 2016
3. What is a Referendum?
People eligible to vote must answer a Yes or No question, which ever response gets the most votes wins!
4. What is the UK Brexit Referendum Question?
- Question: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
- Response 1: Remain a member of the European Union
- Response 2: Leave the European Union
5. Why is Britain having a Referendum?
The last vote on whether to stay or leave Europe was in 1975, and of course the social, political and economic climate in Europe has changed dramatically since then. As a result the EU’s objectives have also changed. In the UK following various developments in Europe there has been increasing pressure on the government to hold a EU-in/out referendum, and so leading up to the 2015 UK General Election David Cameron promised that if elected he will:
- Renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union
- Hold a Britain in/out EU referendum before the end of 2017
6. Brexit Explained: Key Reasons To REMAIN a member of the European Union
- UNITY – Together we (Britain within Europe) are stronger
- SINGLE MARKET – An exit would result in Britain losing direct access to the European single market, prompting large companies to leave Britain and reduce their investment in Britain
- UNCERTAINTY – Britain would essentially be entering into the unknown and as such would be isolated from Europe, we simply cant afford to gamble on Britain’s future in that way
- INFLUENCE – Outside of the EU, Britain will not be able to influence EU laws and will need to pay to access the EU single market
- TRADE – The EU is Britain’s largest trading partner, worth more than £400 billion a year. A Brexit would damage British trade with the EU, exports would be exposed to tariffs, and there will always be a need to meet EU standards – both resulting in British companies being less competitive in the EU marketplace
- JOBS – UK jobs would be lost as large manufacturers look to move their operations to lower cost EU countries within the single market
- GROWTH – UK growth and development is dependent on high levels of migration, without this migration UK industries will suffer
- INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE – Countries such as the US want Britain to remain in the UK, an exit would significantly reduce Britain’s influence in Europe and with the US, and potentially isolate Britain from global forums on the economy, security and the environment
- FREE MOVEMENT – The ability to travel, live and work in the EU is likely to become more difficult should Britain leave the EU – this will have a huge impact on Brit expat communities in countries such as Spain and France
7. Brexit Explained: Key Reasons to LEAVE the European Union
- CONTROL & INDEPENDENCE – Britain would be freed from the reins of Europe and will be free to decide its own destiny (migration, regulation, budget decisions) in the world
- CONTINUED TRADE – Britain is a large importer of goods, an EU exit would not negatively impact the trade relationship with Europe
- EU BUDGET – Britain wouldn’t need to contribute to the EU budget – in 2015 the UK government paid £13 billion to the EU budget, Britain received £4.5 billion from the EU
- WHAT UNCERTAINTY ? – Norway and Switzerland are good examples of countries that are outside of the EU, free from the EU bureaucracy, and doing well
- GLOBAL TRADE – Britain has bigger fish to fry than the EU, with potentially better trade links with countries in Asia and Latin America, and through organisations such as the World Trade Organisation
- JOBS – UK jobs would surge as UK firms would no longer need to comply with EU laws and would be available for UK workers
- BORDER CONTROL – The UK would control its own borders resulting in fewer EU migrants, allowing for more jobs in the UK, and easing pressure on critical public services such as schools and hospitals
- GLOBAL INFLUENCE – Britain’s doesn’t gain any global influence through EU membership; Britain is a global economic power, is part of Nato, the UN Security Council and a nuclear power
A lot of these points you can argue either way. Each campaign will use statistics that support their argument. As June approaches both the in/out sides of the Brexit fence will intensify their campaigns – hopefully the above will help you make sense of what they’re saying.
- BBC – The UK’s EU referendum: All you need to know
- Guardian – The EU referendum: a guide to the UK’s biggest political decision of the century
- Economist – A background guide to “Brexit” from the European Union
- RT – Demystifying Brexit: The ‘ins & outs’ of the EU referendum
- Telegraph – What is Brexit and what would happen if Britain left the EU?
- FT – What is Brexit and why is the EU referendum being held?
- FullFact.org – The UK’s EU membership fee
- BBC – UK and the EU: Better off out or in?
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