Brexit Begins

By Niamh Sammon

Like the majority of referendums, “Brexit” was born out of long-standing promises made by politicians for change, discontent and a sprinkling (or bucket) of bad luck. With fears over mass immigration from other European countries high and pressure to “get a better deal for Britain” in terms of trade building, former Prime Minister David Cameron chose to give the decision over to the public hoping they would choose to remain part of the EU. Unfortunately for him, it proved to be the worst strategic decision he could have made for his political career, which promptly ended following his losing result.

Following the vote on June 23rd 2016, the results were 48.1% remain and 51.9% leave. The total voter turnout was 72.2%, with areas with older voters having the highest turnout. As with any results which are such a close call, they were viewed and discussed with shock, with “How did this happen?” being asked repeatedly. It seemed as though the remain side underestimated the opposing leave side. Additionally, opinion polls prior to the actual vote all seemed to indicate that the remain side (that is, who favoured that Britain would remain within the EU) would be victorious.

Current situation

At the time in which this article was completed, UK Prime Minister Theresa May had triggered Article 50. This law was the subject of major legal conflict and debate in recent months. Article 50 essentially officially begins the process of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU by commencing official exit talks. Britain will now play a waiting game, partaking in “divorce talks” with the EU. This period is set to last until March 2019 when the United Kingdom is scheduled to officially leave the EU.

As a young woman from Northern Ireland, who had the right and chose to vote in the Brexit referendum, I, like many young people in a similar position, were totally shocked by the result. It seemed as though the decision came out of the blue, as no one seemed truly concerned that the UK would actually exit the European Union. However, in true 2016 fashion, when the results were announced, they were met by half of the population groaning with discontent and the other half rubbing their hands gleefully together while secretly thinking, “Oh crap, what now?” Young people in the UK are concerned about their education, as many young people here in America are. Now, our futures seem clouded with uncertainty and thoughts that WE are the ones who will have to clean up the mess, which may or may not ensue. Brexit has highlighted that Britain is a deeply divided nation, which seems already to have major issues. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have requested to formally leave Britain, which would essentially mean that they would remain within the EU and would become totally independent countries. In essence, the United Kingdom would be significantly less “united.” From this historic day on, Wednesday the 29th of March 2017, the whole of UK should expect to set their clocks back to 1973.

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