With one stroke ofdiplomacy, the entire future of the United Kingdom was changed forever. Anationwide referendum held in 2016 paved the way for the UK to leave theEuropean Union for good. The aftermath was tumultuous. Financial markets dippedovernight and led to the resignation of a Prime Minister who adamantly led thecampaign to remain a part of the EU.
On the surface the transition may appearto have had a quick turnaround, but in reality, tensions have been high sincethe creation of the European Union in 1957. The United Kingdom’s firstapplication for membership in 1963 for what, at the time, was known as theEuropean Economic Community, was vetoed by then French President Charles DeGaulle for purely pride reasons; he did not want English to replace French asthe dominant language of the collection of countries. It took ten years for thetwo sides to come to an agreement and grant the UK acceptance, and took onlytwo years after that for them to be on the verge of backing out once again.Tensions rose again in 1984 when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher enterednegotiations to reduce British payments into the EU’s budget, citing a lack offunds as a reason to distance itself from the organizations. Over the past 25years, the United Kingdom and its European “partners” fought over everythingfrom beef to chocolate. It could be argued that the United Kingdom was neverfully invested in the bond that linked the members of the European Union, anadamant desire to maintain the pound as their currency and not make the switch tothe Euro in order to control its own interest rate policy summarizes in anutshell the one foot in one foot out approach the UK had throughout. While itmay appear as though the initial economic reverberations that occurred were thehighlight of the split, the issue goes far beyond that of domestic markets.
Iwill begin by detailing exactly how the United Kingdom got to this point intheir relationship with the European Union, next I will focus on the timelinebetween now and the countdown to the March 30th, 2019 date fordeparture. I will then examine and break down the future repercussions of thismove into three categories: relocation laws, inter-state competition, andfinally what this split means for immigration. By doing so I will posit that theeffects of this split are some that we cannot even begin to accurately predict,it is a move in international relations that will completely revolutionize theplaying field within Europe by adding new actors into sectors that werepreviously not conceived to be possible.
The opportunity for growth that is atthe forefront of this change will be followed by an immense need for corporatelaw reform in order to merge the desires for movement and sovereignty, twothings that previously have not worked hand in hand. Sovereignty is aboutcontrol, and movement is about freedom, but with BREXIT, the two must cometogether if any hope for a prosperous future is desired in the new, free-standing,United Kingdom. Background Howdid we get here? “The vote for Brexit was a necessary victory. And that it wasnecessary is a tragedy”, these words by the Duke of Wellington summarize perfectlyhow Britons view, and have viewed, the United Kingdom’s involvement with theEuropean Union.
The fact of the matter is that many citizens never quiteunderstood the true meaning of this European Union concept that they had beensigned up for. The main benefit, and a main reason for the creation of the EU,is the single, or common market. But what does this mean, and how was itviewed? The single market allows for the free movement of goods, services,money, and (most contentiously) people within the states of the European Union,as if it were acting as a single country. The goal was to spark trade betweenEuropean countries, all the while creating jobs and lowering prices by notcharging tariffs on imports and exports between member states. This, in theory,gave business leaders, and even common individuals, freedom to move acrossborders without the burden of understanding an entire different system ofoperations.
The downside however, is that in order to ensure that there is aneven playing field between nations, rules and regulations were set up thatremoved certain freedoms that businesses outside the EU tended to enjoy. Inaddition to these economic implications, there were also concerns regardingmigration. This freedom across borders that was idealized by supporters of theEU was viewed negatively by Britons, who saw mass migrations occurring frompoorer nations into their wealthy home country as a downside. Concerns stemmingfrom lost jobs for the British being taken by immigrants was a sticking pointin the push towards separating from the EU. This is supported by figures thatwere presented across the UK that seventy percent of Britain’s skilled workingclass supported the Brexit action, signaling that tensions were high in thebattle for keeping the UK insulated from the rest of Europe. Matters escalatedwhen Tony Blair, UK’s prime minister from 1997-2007, a staunch supporter ofremaining in the EU, essentially set the table for the split by proposing arelatively radical plan to grant the right to work to migrants from the bloc offormerly Communist countries that joined the EU in 2004.