By Rodrigo Nazarian – Chief Editor of the Global Gazette (Boston campus)
Before diving into the complexity of this issue, it is important to go through the timeline of events first, to highlight the instability and chaotic nature of it. In a tough election, Prime Minister David Cameron had to compromise, promising a referendum regarding Brexit, to get elected. This referendum was held in June of 2016 and the majority voted in favor of the UK leaving the EU, by a close 51 to 49 percent. Mr Cameron, who strongly opposed the Brexit, had to step out of office, giving place to Theresa May in the same year. The new Prime Minister was supportive of Brexit, as she pushed for a hard Brexit (stronger barriers between the UK and the EU).
The original deadline to leave the EU was on March 14, 2019; however, with though negotiations, May got an extension on Article 50, with approval from the EU, postponing Brexit. With mounting pressure, and not being able to follow through on her promises regarding the negotiations, May had to step out of office as well, giving place to Boris Johnson on July 1st 2019. Mr Johnson’s capacity to negotiate the Brexit deal has been questioned by many since he seems to fall in the same category as many new world leaders: nationalistic, confrontative (anti-diplomatic to some extent), and highly questionable. A style that resembles Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and others.
At this moment, the future of this deal is uncertain, and its resolution seems to be far away still. However, it is already possible to see some of the damage that it has caused over the past years in the UK. Internally, this is fueling the conflict with Scotland, because the country has been against the deal; imposing more obstructions in the negotiations, since the possibility of Scotland leaving the UK but remaining as a member in the EU has emerged. Another factor to take into consideration is the political polarization and how this referendum fueled this. Polarization is always harmful to the political scenario because it weakens the exciting structures, and gives power to populists. Especially in this case where the nation is split in half.
Economically, this deal also implies a lot of difficulties for the UK in the future. The original purpose of forming the EU, known previously as the European Economic Community, was so that countries in Europe could compete economically with the US. A strategy that has worked throughout the years, with the strongest countries in Europe experiencing growth at a similar rate of the US. Leaving the EU would imply giving up a lot of investment, competitiveness, and productivity, regardless of the nature of the deal (soft or hard). Principally because London is the financial center of Europe, something that becomes impossible after Brexit, and this reallocation would result in a tremendous economic loss. Another aggravator is the instability created around this deal, which is a natural repellent for investors and entrepreneurs.
The biggest challenge of the deal, however, lies in the political aspect of it and the negotiations with the EU due to a series of factors. Firstly, the UK has a lot of already existing deals with the EU that would have to be renegotiated, and that has proven to be a big challenge since so far very little (to none) progress has been made. Another factor is renegotiating the already existing projects that the UK is invested in, and since most of them are long-term, reaching an agreement will also be a very arduous mission. Yet another problem, and probably the biggest one, is that the member of the EU has previously agreed that, in the case of any country applying the Article 50, they would make the negotiations very hard. That was something designed to punish countries that wanted to leave and make a statement out of it. Putting the UK under no conditions whatsoever to bargain or negotiate. Which creates a paradoxical problem: it is impossible to leave, and impossible to come back.
Three years, and two Prime Ministers into the negotiations of Brexit, almost no progress has been made, and it seems like the two parts will never reach an agreement. On one side, the UK has to keep pushing for a hard Brexit (even though they have no leverage in this negotiation) for public appearances, since coming back on this decision would destroy their image. While on the other side, the EU is doing everything to make this deal impossible, maintaining the appearances as well, since they can’t simply accept the UK back. Nonetheless, it seems like both parties are forcing this situation, creating an impossible deal, giving them momentum with the general public to cancel the Brexit.