For Brexiteers, Wednesday the 14th was a day of both celebration and concern, as ministers such as Esther McVey and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab began dropping like flies after May’s cabinet vote. Following a five-hour meeting, it was announced that Theresa May’s cabinet was to officially back the latest Brexit draft, making the Prime Minister’s next obstacle to convince parliament of her decision.
The 585-page draft in question includes provisions for an assumed $50 billion-dollar financial settlement from the U.K. to the EU, as well as two articles that cover the right to permanent residence for one’s family. The draft also contains an abundance of less debated sections that would directly affect people’s lives, such as the preparation and transportation of food and the acceptance of identity cards by host states after the five year transition period ends.
According to article 8, this transitory period would end U.K. access to “any network, any information systems and any databases established on the basis of Union law,” which would most likely result in the restriction of regional cooperation and the limitation of U.K. access to important information gathered by EU member states. A good portion of the draft also explains how the Northern Irish boarder would work especially with regards to travel, trade and protecting internal markets. These huge numbers of intricate details make this one of the most complex divorce documents in history.
The European Union has always been an issue in U.K. politics; although their influence in Europe was unmatched for most of the 20th century, there has been an ongoing debate regarding sovereignty versus cooperation. Greenland’s former representative to the EU, Lars Vesterbirk, warned that despite this problematic history, “British people should remember that the EU was created for the benefit of member states, not for those outside.” It is therefore fitting to question just how much Britain is willing to sacrifice for complete independence, considering the extent to which Brexit would irreversibly change the future of international cooperation, the status of IGO agreements, and the roles of travel, trade and response to environmental crisis.
U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May described her cabinet’s support as a “decisive step” in the process of withdrawing from the EU. However other figures such as Nadine Dorries, who campaigned relentlessly for Brexit, are now criticizing the current draft for leaving the U.K. with no representatives to the European parliament. In fact, since cabinet acceptance of the draft, many ministers and citizens have publicly expressed their disdain, countering those who support May’s claim to the BBC that it “sets the framework for a future relationship deliver in our national interest.”
If the citizens who voted leave in the 2016 referendum and the ministers who helped compose it are so unhappy, it may be time for the U.K. as a whole to take a step back and examine what is best for the nation. If May and the Brexiteers are simply trying to push forward an agreement in order to reach a deadline instead of one that will benefit the U.K.’s future economy and international politics, then is it truly worth this rush and in-fighting?
There is still a long road ahead, with the final draft being laid before Parliament soon and the European Council meeting in the beginning of December. Later in 2019, the U.K. will also need to gain the European Parliament’s consent as well as the House of Lords. There are, however, many options for Parliament to take at this point, whether it be negotiating a new timeline with the EU divorce committee or setting up a new vote for U.K. citizens. Such a vote may decide if citizens really want to continue with the current draft, or if the majority of people have come to realize just how much they really benefit from being a part of the EU.
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