On June 23, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The results were 51.9% to leave and 48.1% to stay in the EU.
Recently, on March 29, prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 which would formally begin the process of leaving the European Union.
The UK will be the first country to leave the European Union. Why do the British want to leave the EU and what will the consequences be?
Why did Brexit Happen?
The European Union is an organization which is currently comprised of 28 member countries. The EU acts as an extra layer of government for its voluntary members. The EU can create laws and pass regulations which are then applied equally to all of its members. In this way, the EU unites Europe.
While many European countries are happy with the laws passed by the EU, there are some who aren't. Some people, and political parties, believe their countries should decide the laws for themselves. Many critics believe the EU is led by Germany and serves only the German people. Critics also believe the EU is too overbearing in its regulations.
Additionally, the Syrian refugee crisis has added stress to the EU system, with many countries attempting to shut their borders and the EU being against such actions. These factors have fueled anger for many right-wing politicians and parties. In June of last year, the anti-EU establishment won its largest victory with the UK voting to leave.
The successful triggering of Article 50 is disastrous for the European Union. There is no longer any doubt within European lawmakers that it is possible for a country to leave the EU. With Britain leaving, some believe this may trigger a domino effect throughout Europe. There have already been talks of leaving the EU in France, Sweden, Denmark, and several others.
On a local level, Brexit has begun to cause turmoil within the United Kingdom. Scotland, a state within the UK, has voted to hold a second referendum to demand independence from the other UK states: England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland wants independence on the grounds that it wishes to remain in the European Union. During the referendum in June, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.
The process for leaving the EU will take around two years. It is possible to stop the process, but unless the attitudes of the UK change greatly, the EU will soon formally lose one of its more powerful members and European politics will be changed forever.