Should United Kingdom Hold Another Brexit Vote?
The United Kingdomâs Labour Party has announced that if Prime Minister Theresa May cannot get a Brexit deal that meets their criteria, they will push for another referendum. If this happened, it could potentially scuttle the UKâs potential exit from the European Union. The Labour Party is the second largest party in the UKâs parliament, narrowly trailing Theresa Mayâs Conservative Party.
The Labour Party has announced that it is likely to reject any deal May reaches with the EU. This is because the deal probably wonât pass a number of tests which include:
- Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?
- Does it deliver the âexact same benefitsâ as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?
- Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communit ies?
- Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?
- Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?
- Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?
The United Kingdom has found itself between a rock and a hard place. The country has only months before it exits the European Union. According to Article 50, the United Kingdom must exit the EU on March 29th, 2019, unless an extension is granted. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been hoping to reach a deal with the EU that would largely preserve the UKâs access to the Common Market, but would also return border controls. (Travel within the EU is largely unrestricted.)
So far, the European Union has lambasted Mayâs proposals as unworkable. President of the European Council Donald Tusk, for example, argued that Mayâs proposals would undermine the common market. French president Emmanuel Macron went on to claim that Brexit was sold by âliarsâ who have since âexited the stage,â referencing the departure of many pro-Brexit people from Mayâs cabinet.
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Given how difficult Brexit is turning out to be, the Labour Party believes that a revote may be in order. Crucially, YouGov polls have found that support for staying in the European Union now leads support for Brexitâ"46 percent to 42 percent, respectively. The vote would still be tight, but if held again, the United Kingdom would likely remain in the European Union.
Further, after the Brexit vote, many Brits admitted that they didnât vote because they thought the UK would absolutely remain in the EU and their vote was largely symbolic. Some voters even reported voting to leave, even though they didnât want to. Many of those voters may want another chance to vote. And given the gravity of Brexit, it may make sense for them to do so.
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Perhaps most importantly, it turns out that many of the campaign pledges and arguments of pro-Brexit campaigners have turned out to be false. For example, the pro-Brexit camp claimed that the UK would end up with 350 million pounds more, per week, to spend at home. This is in reference to funding sent from London to Brussels to be spent on the EU as a whole. However, the UK also receives money back from the EU. It seems now that, at most, the UK would save 250 million pounds after Brexit.
Of course, this is still a tremendous amount of money. However, economists warn that the economic losses of Brexit could cost far more. London is at risk of losing its place as a global financial hub, and manufacturers in the UK will lose easy access to the EUâs vast common market, among other things. So far, Brexit is estimated to have cost the UK 2 percent of its GDP. And remember, the UK hasnât even left the EU. A no-deal departure woul d likely cost 1.5 percent of the GDP.
Many pro-Brexit parties argued that the United Kingdom would be able to remain in the common market. This would provide economy stability but, so far, the tough negotiations with the EU suggest that that wonât be the case. If the UK wants to remain in the common market, they will have to accept the four pillars of EU âfreedomâ: free movement of goods, services, capital and people.Advertisement
Itâs the last one thatâs a particular sticking point for the UK. Many Brits are weary of mass migration, both from within and from without the EU. Indeed, a British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found that 73 percent of those who voted to leave were worried about immigration.
Within the EU, migrants from poorer European countries have immigrated in large numbers to the UK. Many feel that these migrants have displaced Brits. Meanwhile, migrants from outside the EU, mostly from the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan, have strain ed the Union as a whole. The UK has been among the least welcoming of refugees. Still, the lack of tight border controls within the EU makes it easy for refugees to cross into the UK.
If the UK wants to stay in the common market, itâll need to accept freedom of movement. And yet, that was perhaps the biggest reason that pro-Brexit supporters wanted to leave. Indeed, the UK has actually voted for the vast majority of policies implemented by Brussels. Of policies passed through the European Council since 1999, the UK has actually voted against just 57 acts, while supporting 2,474 acts and abstaining on 70 occasions.Advertisement
So now the UK has found itself at a tough crossroads. Accepting freedom of movement in exchange for access to the common market makes little sense. The UK would have to cave on perhaps the more important issue to pro-Brexit Brits: border control. Theyâd also lose a seat at the table in Brussels. At the same time, leaving the common market might be economic suicide.
Given all this, a revote on Brexit might be in order. Of course, Brits might choose to leave again, but at least now, theyâll know what theyâre actually getting into.
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Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.Advertisement