In the weeks following the original Brexit date on March 29, the U.K. has again asked the European Union to postpone its reckoning as the British government struggles to reach a consensus on how to leave the EU. The U.K. needs to face the consequences of its 2016 referendum and be forced out of the EU before the European Parliament elections, with or without a deal. While watching Brexit unfold from the U.S., many Americans are getting worried about the potential impacts, such as an increase in the price of EU and British goods — like Cadbury eggs — and also difficulties with enforcing sanctions and with ripple effects on the U.S. economy.
The Brexit catastrophe began in June 2016 when former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after Britain voted to leave the European Union in a national referendum. The whole situation, from Cameron’s political gamble in holding a referendum, to holding a snap election, to triggering Article 50 — the plan within the Treaty of Lisbon for any country that wishes to leave the EU — has been one blunder after another by the U.K. government. While President Donald Trump may favor a no-deal Brexit, it is certainly not in the interest of American or U.K. citizens, but neither is a continuous extension. Should Britain exit from the European Union without a deal, Britain and the EU would be left without a trade agreement, which would drastically affect Britain’s economy as well as those of the 27 remaining states.
The European Union needs to stop pandering to the U.K. and consider a post-Brexit EU. The U.K. has lost most of its negotiating power because of procedural mistakes, and there is no majority coming forward on a coherent Brexit plan. There is no reason to continue to allow the U.K. government to avoid the separation it initiated and has not changed its mind on. The European Union’s agenda should not continue to be hijacked by nationalist Brexit talks, which risk the future of the European integration project. A united Europe has been, and continues to be, in the economic interest of the U.S., and it should not be put in jeopardy with a prolonged Brexit delay.
The United Kingdom is no longer the Great British Empire, and despite its large economy, does not compare to the bloc of 27. The EU is potentially destabilizing both the British economy and the single market by continuing to allow an internal discussion about Britain’s future that should have been litigated two years ago. The uncertainty for global businesses, consumers and EU citizens is creating anxiety that could harm the global economy even more than a potential no-deal Brexit.
The British government pretends that all it needs is more time to come up with a Brexit strategy, but after two years, no consensus has been reached. The U.K. Parliament voted down all options, including the no-deal Brexit, and it is unclear what this means — a no-deal Brexit is the default unless the EU gives Britain a delay. The European Union has made clear that the current agreement is the only withdrawal agreement available and that it will not renegotiate. That leaves the current withdrawal agreement or a no-deal Brexit as the only options. Unlike the no-deal scenario, which would result in extreme tariff fluctuations, a withdrawal agreement would allow for a withdrawal period that lasts until December 2020, during which there would be no alterations to trade or tariff processes. A delay will only buy more time for Britain to get its house in order, and with the current makeup of Parliament, this seems unlikely to happen.
The EU’s decision to postpone Brexit from the originally scheduled March 29 was already more than generous. Although an orderly Brexit is in the best interest of the EU, U.S. and U.K., a continuous purgatory is not. The European elections give the perfect separation point to determine whether the U.K. is in or out of the EU. It would be better for the global economy if the British Parliament would hold its nose and vote for the withdrawal agreement, but if that doesn’t happen, the European Union must say goodbye to the U.K. before the European elections.
In “Pundit in Training,” Nathan takes a look at the fact that while young people are most likely going to constitute the largest voting block in the United States, we seem to lack a proper grasp of their perspectives and opinions. With this column, Nathan aims to wield his many opinions to try and understand the world of American politics through a student lens.
Nathan Maue is a senior in CAS majoring in Computer Science.
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