The UK and Brexit

The UK and Brexit

The European mammoth that is the European Union (EU) had been long asleep; confident in its strength and the unshakable foundation that it had built. Hovering over global politics and economy, this trading bloc had been a prime example of rehabilitation post the devastating World War II. Despite gradual growth in the first few decades, the past few years marked an exponential expansion in one of the world’s most formidable common markets. The legal and political structure that accompanied this economic bloc is unique on its own. With a history of failed attempts at bridging the gap between warring sovereigns, European unity seemed like a mirage. Possibly the most striking incident in the history of the Union besides the empty chair policy adopted by France to oppose the UK’s application of accession, was the result of the polls on June 23, 2016. The Britons, after a year-long campaign of voting to leave the UK by interested stakeholders and Eurosceptics, with a threadbare majority voted to leave the Union. The effect of this referendum could not have been appreciated fully at that point by anyone in the legal or political circles – it was mere speculation since the vote appeared from nowhere leaving no time for the UK and proponents of her EU membership to do their homework. TV channels were blaring with breaking news of the live conundrum and broadcast anchors, political analysts and economists gasping at the decision of the Britons. What was to ensue was further speculation and a recipe for chaos and confusion. For an English law student, this was a manifestation of Public Law lectures that he had been waiting for, regarding the UK’s sovereignty being unimpeachable. The UK Parliament had shared its power with the EU willingly and at any point in time could revoke this power. This was read more like a legal dream than a reality of breaking away from the Union.

Possibly the most striking incident in the history of the Union besides the empty chair policy adopted by France to oppose the UK’s application of accession, was the result of the polls on June 23, 2016. The Britons, after a year-long campaign of voting to leave the UK by interested stakeholders and Eurosceptics, with a threadbare majority voted to leave the Union. The effect of this referendum could not have been appreciated fully at that point by anyone in the legal or political circles – it was mere speculation since the vote appeared from nowhere leaving no time for the UK and proponents of her EU membership to do their homework. TV channels were blaring with breaking news of the live conundrum and broadcast anchors, political analysts and economists gasping at the decision of the Britons. What was to ensue was further speculation and a recipe for chaos and confusion. For an English law student, this was a manifestation of Public Law lectures that he had been waiting for, regarding the UK’s sovereignty being unimpeachable. The UK Parliament had shared its power with the EU willingly and at any point in time could revoke this power. This was read more like a legal dream than a reality of breaking away from the Union.

For an English law student, this was a manifestation of Public Law lectures that he had been waiting for, regarding the UK’s sovereignty being unimpeachable. The UK Parliament had shared its power with the EU willingly and at any point in time could revoke this power. This was read more like a legal dream than a reality of breaking away from the Union. Mr. Cameron, the former British premier, set the stage to salvage his political legacy and affirm his residence at 10 Downing Street, but the plan backfired. The ditch lovingly called Brexit awaited the UK following a decision based on one of the most formidable contagions of the modern world: democracy. But how did it all happen and what shall follow?

Fuelled by a negative sentiment of immigrants from various European states, the voters were set to repaint the British landscape. The accession of UK and the concept of citizenship opened the UK border to a flood of immigrants from rural and urban centres all over Europe. As they entered the UK, they took over various jobs as their availability was high and cost was low. The Britons were replaced effectively over time from driving taxis and mopping floors to building roads and houses and even running corporate structures. Operating as a magnet to both skilled and unskilled workers, the UK would soon seize to be a safe haven for immigrants. Since the vote, the biggest threat is to these immigrants who have now settled in the UK, albeit often living in their small communities, inhabiting their neighbourhoods which are reminiscent of their primitive culture and social values. The abundance of workforce has certainly eased many chores in the UK, however this sent home many working Britons who are now not looking for jobs since they await support of their government which according to them, did not handle the issue of immigrants from the very beginning. To top it off, there was a myth that EU immigrants tended to eat a share of the British pie. Misled by numbers and statistics, the Britons ignored those paying taxes and contributing to national wealth, while sealing off the borders to any further immigrants and forcing those within the UK to pack their bags. The vacuum that shall be created post-Brexit would be supremely difficult to fill. Since the EU is wrapped around the concept of a common market, EU citizens enjoy the right of free movement and residence in any member state, and the UK is certainly an attractive address. Having severed its ties, as much as the UK may wish, immigration from the EU shall be a seldom sight.

With recent events in global history, the refugee crisis has reached the EU, and most EU member states under the leadership of Angela Merkel of Germany been very hospitable towards refugees from Syria and North Africa. The refugees would take a long time to fully rehabilitate and settle within the EU – once that they become EU residents, they would be able to move around the EU without anyone raising eyebrows towards them. The refugee influx would cause concern for a sudden hike in the population graph of Europe, not being commensurate with the political and legal setup of the EU. Additionally, rehabilitation of refugees shall become a necessary expenditure from the EU budget which is a contribution by the member states. We shall be discussing this a little further. The refugee influx would make countries more vulnerable and prone to increased crime rate and unemployment and other social benefits extended to them – this added fuel to the fire which had been smouldering over the years in the UK and the Britons were forced to make their choice of breaking away from the EU.

Moreover, the Britons have sacrificed their own right to enjoy high-quality European produce at extremely cheap prices as a result of liberal free-trade policies and stringent competition laws. The British markets are inundated by fresh tomatoes, citrus fruits and a variety of greens which are procured from the best sites in Europe. Shopping at a convenience store in the UK shall not be the same again for either the produce is going to vanish absolutely following the closure of the UK border and introduction of fiscal charges or it shall be ridiculously expensive making it a novelty. The local producers who have long left the markets, as the British terrain was not fertile and the weather was inhospitable, would have to return to ploughing their fields and populating their greenhouses. It is doubtful how the quality or quantity of the local produce would ever be able to match up to the burgeoning demand in the country. As detrimental as it might be for the Britons, the European producers shall suffer from a huge loss too since the British market was quite enormous not only catering to the local population but that transiting through the country as well. As cities like London attract a huge number of tourists and students every year, European products make their way to the palette and lives of all of them creating a dependency, which was the real purpose of a free market: to make as many European products available to as many households in Europe as possible.

Not only goods but the service industry shall also be witnessing a plummet in its graph following the infamous Brexit. The highrise buildings mushroomed all over London and gradually expanding their roots through the UK, are yet to be housed by more investment banks, hedge-funds and the likes from all over Europe. The British market tends to share a proximate relationship with the gigantic Wall Street, so this would have made a fine site to establish these businesses. However post-Brexit, there are rumours about a packing up from London and relocating to other addresses such as Frankfurt. The new venues are not only getting limelight on the global map but also tend to ensure trading ties with the EU bloc.

The hospitality industry would certainly bear witness to the most marked declines in the sales graph in years. Cities such as London and Glasgow are cultural hubs of not only the UK but also Europe and thereby attracted people from every age group. Cheap travel and bed-n-breakfasts facilitated inexpensive holidays which would all be over following the closure of UK borders or at least the installation of a screening process of every European entering the UK. On the other hand, weekend getaways to Amsterdam, southern France and Italy, the white islands of Greece and the hallmark cobbled streets of Spanish towns would lose their popularity since a shift in the British border control policies would force the EU to shift its visa policies for Britons as well.

Last but not the least, the Brexit move pivoted on the EU budget, which according to most proponents of a vote-out of the EU was a compulsory expenditure undertaken by the British government to a pool which was disproportionately allocated between the multiple countries of the EU. It would be a long time before the more developed countries of EU rank higher in priority to receive any share of the EU development budget. The promise of retaining this money which was remitted out to the European Central Bank and using it to refurbish healthcare services in the UK was the final nail in the coffin to cause this vote-out. Little were the voters aware of the fact that keeping the money within the country may never mean allocating it to these services. The European budget might have attracted a huge sum from the UK over the decades of its membership, the reciprocity which the common market showed greatly benefitted both British vendors and buyers thus creating benefit in practical and fiscal terms which would not be flagged through free pills and tonic at NHS centres.

The move away from the EU might have been picturesque but it is far from perfect. It is not only gloomy but shows a total landslide defeat for the Britons. It shall not only be difficult but impossible to recreate the time from before the European membership. The institutions, the markets, the schools, the people all seem to have been Europeanised over the years while cultural interaction and economic interdependency have not just been limited to books. The easy exchange of Euro at the stables market in Camden despite the UK having stood its ground of staying clear of the Euro-zone and not allowing its Sterling to be tarnished is evidence of the same that Europe is not knocking at your door anymore. It is very much inside your alleys and corridors. The move away from the bloc seems preposterous and uncalled for, now and forever.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organisation with which he might be associated.

Ali Arslan

The writer is an advocate and lecturer for University of London LLB Hons programmes in Pakistan, with a teaching experience of over a decade. He has an LLM in International Business Law from UCL, UK and is an HEC-NLU Scholar. He is currently teaching at The Institute of Legal Studies and LGS Defence International Degree Program, Lahore.



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