Political tensions heat up in U.K. as Brexit deadline nears


By Colleen Hammond | Staff Columnist 

In the summer of 2016, former United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron proposed a referendum to leave the European Union. By an exceedingly narrow margin, the people voted to remove themselves from the EU. Thus began the downward spiral of failed bureaucratic deliberations and political polarization. While Parliament assured citizens three years would be enough time to properly negotiate a fair and comprehensive deal with the EU, these promises have been broken by current Prime Minister Theresa May’s inability to unify Parliament and solidify the terms of Brexit.

In plainest terms, Brexit is a nightmare. The majority of the Brexit campaign was built on a series of propagated lies and factual inaccuracies. In 2016, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, endorsed a pro-Brexit ad campaign on buses across the city, falsely claiming, “We send the EU £350 million a week.” While it is not entirely free for the U.K. to be a part of the EU, this number fails to take into account rebates the U.K. receives from the EU. These rebates lower that figure to around £190 million per week.

Although this may seem offensively expensive to some, it will be inherently more expensive to trade with Europe while outside the EU as the U.K. will face very high taxes and sanctions. This all depends, of course, on the type of trade deal the British can achieve. To prevent more countries from leaving the EU, many predict that England will face extreme trade restrictions. If the EU shows mercy, this will set a legal precedent that powerful nations can leave the EU without repercussion, leaving the Union weaker and non-EU countries stronger.

On top of the economic turmoil awaiting the U.K. should a Brexit deal go through, many Brits have ignored another major downside to this referendum. If Brexit occurs, free travel throughout Europe will not be possible for British citizens. While this may seem a minor inconvenience to families on vacation, it has the potential to reignite violent tensions. The removal of the U.K. from the EU will force Britain to put a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Historically, this has been a site for frequent shootings, bombings and radical attacks. Due to the historical violence in this region, a hard border across Northern Ireland will likely be misconstrued as cultural division and has the potential to reignite old tensions. The tumultuous past of this region will likely resort to its old way of religious, regional, national and ethnic tensions in the form of frequent attacks and civilian armament. This problem has often been overlooked by British voters and lawmakers alike, making it more obvious that very few have thought out this decision.

Although the initial date for Brexit was intended for Friday, March 29, a happy accident has occurred from May’s incompetency. Because Parliament voted down May’s proposed Brexit plan, the EU has granted the U.K. an extension on the Brexit deadline. Parliament now has until May 22 of this year to sort matters out. However, this delay leaves a unique opportunity for Britain to escape its impending doom. To avoid total economic collapse and impending violence, Parliament should hold a second referendum asking if after nearly three years of failure, British citizens still want to leave the EU.

Unfortunately, the fastest time the U.K. could arrange such a vote is 22 weeks. While this would occur far past the May 22 date, it is not unreasonable to think the EU will provide more extensions to Parliament.

Brexit does not benefit the EU. In fact, it weakens them to lose such a wealthy and powerful nation. While the EU will enforce strict sanctions on the U.K if they choose to leave, it can be assumed they will do what they can to allow the U.K to stay. They want Brexit to serve as an example of what will happen if other nations attempt to remove themselves from the Union. If one of the strongest nations in the Union cannot figure out how to remove themselves without an economic catastrophe, how could weaker nations expect to survive outside the EU?

While Brexit proves a highly complicated political and economic transaction, it remains a blatant display of Parliament’s lack of foresight and desire to serve its people. Despite the countless imminent problems Brexit raises for ordinary British citizens, Parliament continues to charge ahead into the abyss of their own looming destruction.