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March 11, 2019 | by  | in Liquid Knowledge |
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Liquid Knowledge – Your Pocket Guide to Brexit

This summer I visited Dublin, a city whose tourism really just consists of pints. Exposed to a hideous amount of Brexit Pub Chat, it was impossible not to pick up a few things. With the withdrawal date of March 29 rapidly approaching, here is (very briefly) everything you need to know about Brexitstraight from the mouths of some proper Pintmen.*

 

In 2016, some people in the UK decided that they quite fancied the idea of making all of their own rules, controlling all of their own money, and “protecting” all of their jobs/resources/fragile egos from EU immigrants. In June, a referendum to leave the EU passed with a 51.9% majority. Shortly after, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down and was replaced by Theresa May. In March 2017, May took the formal steps under the EU Treaty Article 50, giving the UK two years to leave. They have since been in negotiations with the EU about the conditions of withdrawal, which must be set out in a formal agreement.

 

Amid this clusterfuck, notable events include:

  • June 2018: May calls an early election in which her Conservative party loses its majority and scrambles to stay in power.
  • November 2018: a 585-page withdrawal agreement, published after months of negotiations, faces unbridled criticismincluding from May’s own party.
  • December 2018: May narrowly survives a vote of no confidence in her leadership. Still clinging on for dear life, she fixes a date for the UK Parliament vote on the withdrawal agreement (it must pass to come into effect). She cancels the vote at the last minute because she thinks it won’t pass, and delays it.
  • January 2019: Vote time! Biggest defeat for a sitting government in Parliamentary history. Back to the EU to get a “better” deal. In progress.
  • February 2019: UK Parliament in bits as 11 MPs leave both Labour and the Conservatives to form the Independent Group, all pushing for a second Brexit referendum. May is shuttling between London and Brussels continuing to “negotiate”, though she has delayed the second vote on the current draft agreement until March 12.

 

Without an agreement, they can still leave in a “no-deal” Brexit, sans transition period to tie up the loose ends. In this clusterfuck of an outcome, trade barriers would go up overnight and uncertainty would permeate every area of society: from immigration, to pharmaceuticals, to nuclear regulation. Despite the fact that the UK could, technically, still cancel Brexit and bashfully apologise for momentarily losing their minds, May has signalled that she will leave even if a deal is not reached. May recently suggested that if her deal is not accepted, she could request Article 50 be extended, and put the whole ‘Leave’ thing off for a few months. This dilly-dallying has, historically, been her preferred tactic.

 

Also, there’s the Irish Question. Ireland is in fact made up of two countries on one island (Northern Ireland, and the Republic of). Northern Ireland is part of the UK and the Republic is not. Brexit will mean that half of the island of Ireland leaves the EU, while half does not. The 310-mile border between the two countries will become a land border between the UK and the EU. Nobody wants to see a “hard” border with checkpoints, towers, and surveillance (cf: the Troubles), but a “soft” border allowing free flow of trade and people is difficult to negotiate. The UK and EU have agreed to a “backstop” to ensure that there is no hard border, whatever the outcome, but this is an imperfect solution which keeps the UK tied to the EUmissing the point of Brexit in the first place. Many MPs are calling for a second referendum, but with 18 days until Brexit Day, there’s a slim chance it’ll happen.

 

The three-year headache that is Brexit is tough to condense, and the landscape of the negotiations and UK Parliament is literally changing EVERY day, so this about does it for a hot take. Go forth, read up, form your own opinion, and make the most of the chance to share a passionate political perspective over pints.

 

*Facts checked against reliable, (sober) sources too!

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