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NEWS 29 March 2017 :
Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has triggered Article 50 of
the Lisbon treaty, starting the long process of taking the UK out of
the European Union. In her speech to Parliament, May firmly announced
that there is now no turning back. But is she right?
The EU has stated that the Brexit process can
be stopped if Britain wants to stop it. May has blandly asserted that
the UK will get a good deal, and for the time being there are still a
lot of people in the UK who believe this. But the number of people who
are not confident that this "good deal" will be better than membership
of the EU is rising.
Once serious talks get
under way, and the inevitable compromises begin to separate the
reality of Brexit from the dream, public dissatisfaction is likely to
grow. If, among the supporters of Brexit, dissatisfaction turns to
disillusion, pressure to call off the whole Brexit process will grow –
not just among the public in Britain, but also in Parliament.
Given the ideological determination of the current British
government, it unlikely that this will happen; but it is important –
and particularly important for people in Britain – to understand that
until Britain actually leaves the EU, turning back remains an option.
Britain has not left the EU yet.
The British - or at least 52% of us
have voted for Brexit. 48% of Britons voted to remain in the EU.
EU citizenship for Britons post-Brexit?European
parliament chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has suggested that the
European Union could offer British citizens the right to remain
citizens of the EU... by contributing individually. This is an
idea that should be followed up.
The anti-Brexit voices are becoming louderFor
the first four months after the referendum, it was as
if anti-Brexit voices in the UK had lost the willingness to fight.
Since the autumn of 2016, the anti-Brexit movement has been gathering
momentum. Success in a parliamentary by-election, where a young Liberal
Democrat candidate won the seat from the Conservatives, against
all the odds, and success in the Supreme court have served to revive
the anti-Brexit movement within Britain. In Scotland, the
nationalist government has called for a second referendum on Scottish
independence.. which Theresa May has refused. Scotland voted clearly to
remain in the EU.
Throughout the UK, the "resistance"
is organising . A bi-monthly newspaper, the New European, which
was originally planned to run for just four issues in 2016, has become
permanent. And anti-Brexit groups and associations, such as the European Movement, are growing in number and membership.
Since the start of 2017, former prime ministers John Major and
Tony Blair have both spoken up against the folly of Brexit; and in the
House of Lords, former Conservative Party deputy leader Michael
Heseltine voted against the Government's plans for Brexit, in the
Lords' brief attempt to hold up the process.
has happened before the consequences of a poor Brexit deal, or no deal
at all, have begun to have any impact.
Brexit : the economic impact has not yet started
Up to now, the result of the Referendum vote has not had much of
a negative impact on the UK economy. Indeed, apart from the fact that
British holidaymakers have seen a sharp rise in the cost of travelling
abroad due to the fall in the value of Sterling, there have not yet
been many negative consequences. Inflation has risen to over 2%... but
is still low, and unemployment has continued to fall, confirming the
belief held by many ordinary people, that Brexit is "liberating" the UK
Obviously this is not at all what is taking
place, as for the time being, Brexit has not happened and the UK is
still an integral member of the EU. What has happened is that the value
of the British currency has fallen, making British exports more
competitive on the world market. At the same time, Europe is recovering
from the economic crises of the early 2010s, meaning that businesses
almost throughout Europe are benefiting from more sales and more
exports. As for UK imports, they have become more expensive, but
firms and shops have cushioned the impact of this, by absorbing some of
the increases from their profit-margins.
is not sustainable. Importers and distributors cannot continue
indefinitely to absorb a good part of the rising costs of imports, and
UK inflation is certain to grow. If Brexit negotiations go badly and
Sterling loses another 10% or more, UK inflation will start to rise
more sharply; analysts are currently predicting that it will reach
between 3% and 4% by the end of 2017 even without another fall in the
value of Sterling. By the end of 2017, firms are likely to begin laying
off staff, and with unemployment and retail prices both rising, the
impacts of Brexit will begin to be felt, specially by poorer
If there is no good Brexit deal, notably on the
matter of a free trade agreement with the EU, the UK economy could be
in for a very rough ride. If this happens, anti-Brexit sentiment will
grow into an irresistable force.
Opponents of Brexit
can at least take some small cheer from the knowledge that Brexit, even
if it happens, is not irreversible. Europe wants the UK, and half the
population of the UK want to be in Europe.
from elsewhere :
© Andrew Rossiter and About-Britain.com