Brexit seems to be all-encompassing: you only have to look at an online news website to see mention of the B-word. While the issue of the UK’s membership has been ruining family dinners for longer than this, the 23rd of June 2016 was when the UK made the decision to leave the European Union, after David Cameron’s Conservative campaign in the previous General Election included a promise to hold a referendum to determine the future of the UK as a part of Europe.
The 29th of March 2019 is when the UK is scheduled to officially leave, regardless of whether a deal with the EU has been reached or not, leaving the UK in a state of uncertainty and chaos. Since this was decided, there have been communications back and forth between the UK and Brussels. The deal Prime Minister Theresa May managed to reach with the EU has been heavily criticised, resulting in a vote of no confidence at the end of 2018 which she won. However, the deal was rejected by Parliament on the 15th of January 2019, losing by 230 votes; this makes it the biggest government defeat in history. She faced PMQ at 12pm on the 16th January 2019, and the entire Conservative government faced a second no confidence vote at 7pm the same day, with many Labour MPs, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, calling for a General Election. Her party survived the no confidence vote by a hair’s breadth, and a General Election is looking less and less likely.
Brexit is a complex issue that will affect everyone differently, and I’m under no illusions that my position of privilege means it will not affect me anywhere near as much as it will others. But I am still worried about the impact it will have on my future. Businesses are leaving the UK in favour of mainland Europe, and the UK is looking less appealing to the international law firms I hope to join, for example, as a result. Brexit has the potential to make securing a job far far more difficult, and this is already not an easy feat for graduates. My other main anxiety is the fate of the NHS under Brexit. Horror stories about stockpiling medicines are already circulating, and it’s possible that medication and treatment will become more expensive following the UK leaving the EU. This will particularly be the case if we leave with a no deal Brexit, which should be avoided at all costs. We all use the NHS on a regular basis, whether it’s for prescriptions like mine or just whenever any problems arise, and this is a vital service likely to be affected negatively by Brexit.
May’s rejected deal means the future of the UK is even more uncertain, and sadly there does not seem to be anyone prepared to take action radical enough to benefit the UK. Should a General Election take place, the two likely outcomes are either that the Conservatives would keep their positions and go forward with a no-deal Brexit, or that the Labour party would win seats and, under Corbyn, attempt to renegotiate with Brussels. On paper, this may sound like a better outcome, but the reality is Corbyn would be unlikely to negotiate a better deal for the UK than May has done.
The best possible outcome for the UK would be a second referendum: there are arguments against this, calling a second referendum ‘undemocratic’, but in the case of the EU leaving referendum of 2016, there are multiple reasons why this would serve in the interests of democracy as opposed to against them. The Leave campaign misinformed voters, particularly with the claim that the money currently paid for EU membership could provide the NHS with an extra £350 million. This is an outright lie and lying to procure votes is the least democratic thing possible. In addition to this, the Leave campaign broke electoral law by overspending, which was the result of its illegal co-ordination with another group.
So, while some fear the public outrage if a second referendum is permitted, it may be our only option to get out of this mess.