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For the movie, see "Brexit: The Movie.

Brexit is a commonly used term for the "United Kingdom's planned "withdrawal from the European Union.[1] Following the "2016 referendum vote to leave, the UK government started "the withdrawal process on 29 March 2017, putting the UK on course to leave by April 2019.[2]

The "terms of withdrawal have not yet been negotiated and the UK remains a full member of the "European Union.[3] "Theresa May, the "British Prime Minister has announced 12 negotiating objectives and confirmed that the UK government would not seek permanent "single market membership.[4] She has promised a "Great Repeal Bill to repeal the "European Communities Act and incorporate existing "EU laws into "UK domestic law.[5]

The UK joined the "European Communities (EC), the EU's predecessor, in 1973, confirming its membership in "a 1975 referendum. In the 1970s and 1980s, withdrawal from the "European Economic Community (EEC) was advocated mainly by "Labour Party and "trade union figures. From the 1990s, withdrawal from the EU was advocated mainly by the newly founded Referendum Party, the "UK Independence Party (UKIP) and by an increasing number of "Conservatives.


The term "Brexit"[edit]

Brexit (like its early variant, Brixit)[6] is a "portmanteau of "British" and "exit". It was derived by analogy from "Grexit, referring to a hypothetical withdrawal of "Greece from the eurozone (and possibly also the EU).[7] The term Brexit may have first been used in reference to a possible UK withdrawal from the EU by Peter Wilding in a Euractiv blog post on 15 May 2012.[8][9] The terms "hard Brexit" and "soft Brexit" are much used unofficially,[10] and are understood to describe the prospective relationship between the UK and the EU after withdrawal, ranging from hard, that could involve the UK trading with the EU like any other non-EU-member country under "World Trade Organization rules but with no obligation to accept "free movement of people, to soft, that might involve retaining membership of the EU single market "for goods and "services and at least some free movement of people, according to "European Economic Area rules.[11]

Historical background[edit]

Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom

Since 1977 both pro- and anti-European views have had majority support, with dramatic swings between the two camps.[12] In the "United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum of 1975, two-thirds of British voters favoured continued membership. The highest ever rejection of membership was in 1980, the first full year of Prime Minister "Margaret Thatcher's term of office, with 65% opposed to and 26% in favour of membership.[12] After Thatcher had negotiated a rebate of British membership payments in 1984, those favouring the EC maintained a lead in the opinion polls, except during 2000, as Prime Minister Tony Blair aimed for closer EU integration including adoption of the euro currency, and around 2011, as immigration into the United Kingdom became increasingly noticeable.[12] As late as December 2015 there was, according to ComRes, a clear majority in favour of remaining in the EU, albeit with a warning that voter intentions would be considerably influenced by the outcome of Prime Minister David Cameron's ongoing EU reform negotiations, especially with regards to the two issues of "safeguards for non-Eurozone member states" and "immigration".[13] The following events are relevant.

European Communities and British membership[edit]

Accession of the United Kingdom to the European Communities

The UK was not a signatory to the "Treaty of Rome which created the then "European Communities, including the "European Economic Community (EEC), in 1957 and the UK's applications in 1963 and 1967 were vetoed by the "President of France, "Charles de Gaulle, who said that "a number of aspects of Britain's economy, from working practices to agriculture" had "made Britain incompatible with Europe" and that Britain harboured a "deep-seated hostility" to any pan-European project.[14] Once de Gaulle had relinquished the French presidency in 1969, the UK made a third and successful application for membership. The question of sovereignty had been discussed at the time in an official "Foreign and Commonwealth Office document (FCO 30/1048) that became open to the public in January 2002 under the "rules for availability after thirty years. It listed among "Areas of policy in which parliamentary freedom to legislate will be affected by entry into the European Communities": Customs duties, Agriculture, Free movement of labour, services and capital, Transport, and Social Security for migrant workers. The document concluded (paragraph 26) that it was advisable to put the considerations of influence and power before those of formal sovereignty.[15] The "Treaty of Accession was signed in January 1972 by the prime minister "Edward Heath, leader of the "Conservative party.[16] Parliament's "European Communities Act 1972 was enacted on 17 October and the UK's instrument of ratification was deposited the next day (18 October),[17] letting the United Kingdom's membership of the EEC, or ""Common Market", come into effect on 1 January 1973.[18]

1975 referendum[edit]

United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum, 1975

In 1975, the United Kingdom held its first ever "national referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Communities. The opposition "Labour Party, led by "Harold Wilson, contested the "October 1974 general election with a commitment to renegotiate Britain's terms of membership of the EEC and then hold a referendum on whether to remain in the EEC on the new terms.[19] All of the major political parties and mainstream press supported continuing membership of the EC. However, there were significant divides within the ruling Labour party, with a 1974 one-day "party conference voting 2:1 in favour of withdrawal and seven of 23 cabinet ministers opposed to EC membership,[20] with "Harold Wilson suspending the "constitutional convention of "Cabinet collective responsibility to allow those ministers to publicly campaign against the government.

On 5 June 1975, the "electorate were asked to vote yes or no on the question: "Do you think the UK should stay in the "European Community (Common Market)?" Every administrative county and region in the UK returned majority "Yes" votes, apart from the "Shetland Islands and the "Outer Hebrides. With a turnout of just under 65%, the outcome of the vote was 67.2% in favour of staying in, and the United Kingdom remained a member of the EC.[21] Support for the UK to leave the EC in 1975, in the data, appears unrelated to the support for Leave in the 2016 referendum.[22]

Thatcher years[edit]

Comparison of results of 1975 and 2016 referendums

In 1979 the United Kingdom opted out of the newly formed "European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) which was the precursor to the creation of the "euro.

The opposition Labour Party campaigned in the "1983 general election on a commitment to withdraw from the EEC without a referendum.[23] It was heavily defeated as the Conservative government of "Margaret Thatcher was re-elected. The Labour Party subsequently changed its policy.[23]

In 1985 the United Kingdom ratified the "Single European Act, the first major revision to the "Treaty of Rome without a referendum with the full support "HM Government of "Margaret Thatcher.

In October 1990 – despite the deep reservations of Prime Minister "Margaret Thatcher but under pressure from her senior ministers – the United Kingdom joined the ERM with the "pound sterling pegged to the "deutschmark.

Maastricht and after[edit]

In November 1990 Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister amid internal divisions within the "Conservative Party arising partly from her increasingly Eurosceptic views. In September 1992 the United Kingdom was forced to withdraw from the ERM after the pound sterling came under pressure from currency speculators (an episode known as "Black Wednesday). The resulting cost to UK taxpayers was estimated to be in excess of £3 billion.[24][25]

As a result of the "Maastricht Treaty, the European Communities became the "European Union on 1 November 1993.[26] The new name reflected the evolution of the organisation from an economic union into a political union.[27] As a result of the "Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, the Maastricht Treaty is now known, in updated form as, the Treaty on European Union (2007) or TEU, and the Treaty of Rome is now known, in updated form, as the "Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2007) or TFEU.

The "Referendum Party was formed in 1994 by "Sir James Goldsmith to contest the "1997 general election on a platform of providing a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.[28] It fielded candidates in 547 constituencies at that election and won 810,860 votes, 2.6% of total votes cast.[29] It failed to win a single parliamentary seat as its vote was spread out across the country, losing its "deposit (funded by Goldsmith) in 505 constituencies.[29]

Role of UKIP[edit]

The "UK Independence Party (UKIP), a "Eurosceptic political party, was also formed, in 1993. It achieved third place in the UK during the "2004 European elections, second place in the "2009 European elections and first place in the "2014 European elections, with 27.5% of the total vote. This was the first time since the "1910 general election that any party other than the Labour or Conservative parties had taken the largest share of the vote in a nationwide election.[30] UKIP's electoral success in the 2014 European election has been documented as the strongest correlate of the support for the leave campaign in the 2016 referendum.[31]

In 2014, UKIP won two by-elections, triggered when the sitting Conservative MPs defected to UKIP and then resigned. These were their first elected MPs. At the "2015 general election UKIP took 12.6% of the total vote and "held one of the two seats won in 2014.[32]


In a statistical analysis published in April 2016, Professor John Curtice (Strathclyde University), has defined "Euroscepticism as the wish to sever or reduce the powers of the EU, and conversely "Europhilia as the desire to preserve or increase the powers of the EU. According to this definition, the British Social Attitudes (BSA) surveys show an increase in euroscepticism from 38% (1993) to 65% (2015). Euroscepticism should however not be confused with the wish to leave the EU: the BSA survey for the period July–November 2015 shows that 60% backed the option "continue as an EU member", and only 30% backed the option to "withdraw".[33]

2016 referendum[edit]

United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016

Negotiations for EU reform[edit]

United Kingdom renegotiation of European Union membership, 2015-16

In 2012, Prime Minister "David Cameron rejected calls for a referendum on the UK's EU membership, but suggested the possibility of a future referendum to gauge public support.[34][35] According to the BBC, "The prime minister acknowledged the need to ensure the UK's position within the European Union had 'the full-hearted support of the British people' but they needed to show 'tactical and strategic patience'."[36]

Under pressure from many of his MPs and from the rise of UKIP, in January 2013, Cameron announced that a Conservative government would hold an in–out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017, on a renegotiated package, if elected in 2015.[37]

The Conservative Party unexpectedly won the "2015 general election with a majority. Soon afterwards the "European Union Referendum Act 2015 was introduced into Parliament to enable the referendum. Cameron favoured remaining in a reformed European Union and sought to renegotiate on four key points: protection of the single market for non-eurozone countries, reduction of "red tape", exempting Britain from "ever-closer union", and restricting EU immigration.[38]

The outcome of the renegotiations was announced in February 2016. Some limits to in-work benefits for new EU immigrants were agreed, but before they could be applied, a country such as the UK would have to get permission from the European Commission and then from the European Council.[39]

In a speech to the House of Commons on 22 February 2016, Cameron announced a referendum date of 23 June 2016 and commented on the renegotiation settlement.[40] Cameron spoke of an intention to trigger the Article 50 process immediately following a leave vote and of the "two-year time period to negotiate the arrangements for exit."[41]

Campaign groups[edit]

Campaigning in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016

The official campaign group for leaving the EU was "Vote Leave[42] after a contest for the designation with "Leave.EU.[43][44]

A "Vote Leave" poster in "Omagh saying "We send the EU £50 million every day. Let's spend it on our NHS instead."

The official campaign to stay in the EU, chaired by "Stuart Rose, was known as "Britain Stronger in Europe, or informally as Remain. Other campaigns supporting remaining in the EU included Conservatives In,[45] "Labour in for Britain,[46] #INtogether (Liberal Democrats),[47] Greens for a Better Europe,[48] Scientists for EU,[49] Environmentalists For Europe,[50] Universities for Europe[51] and Another Europe is Possible.[52]

Referendum result[edit]

Results of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016

The result was announced on the morning of 24 June: 51.9% voted in favour of leaving the European Union and 48.1% voted in favour of remaining a member of the European Union.[53][54] Comprehensive results are available from the UK Electoral Commission Referendum Results site. A "petition calling for a second referendum attracted more than four million signatures,[55][56] but was rejected by the government on 9 July.[57]

United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
Choice Votes  %
Leave the European Union 17,410,742 51.89
Remain a member of the European Union 16,141,241 48.11
Valid votes 33,551,983 99.92
Invalid or blank votes 25,359 0.08
Total votes 33,577,342 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 46,500,001 72.21
Voting age population and turnout 51,356,768 65.38
Source: "Electoral Commission[58]; UNDESA (UK VAP); US Census Bureau (Gibraltar VAP)
Referendum results (without spoiled ballots)
17,410,742 (51.9%)
16,141,241 (48.1%)
Results by region (left) and by local council district (right)

Political effects[edit]

Aftermath of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016

After the result was declared, Cameron announced that he would resign by October.[59] He stood down on 13 July 2016, with "Theresa May becoming Prime Minister after a "leadership contest. "George Osborne was replaced as "Chancellor of the Exchequer by "Philip Hammond, former "Mayor of London "Boris Johnson was appointed "Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and "David Davis became "Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. "Labour leader "Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of confidence among his parliamentary party and "a leadership challenge was launched, while on 4 July, "Nigel Farage announced his resignation as head of UKIP.[60]

Outside the UK many Eurosceptic leaders celebrated and expected others to follow the UK example. The "right-wing Dutch populist "Geert Wilders said that the "Netherlands should follow Britain's example and hold a referendum on whether the Netherlands should stay in the European Union.[61] However, opinion polls in the fortnight following the British referendum show that the immediate reaction in the Netherlands and other European countries was a decline in support for Eurosceptic movements.[62]

A week after the referendum, "Gordon Brown, a former Labour Prime Minister who had "signed the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, warned of a danger that in the next decade the country would be refighting the referendum. He wrote that remainers were feeling they must be pessimists to prove that Brexit is unmanageable without catastrophe, while leavers optimistically claim economic risks are exaggerated.[63]

The previous Labour Prime Minister, "Tony Blair, in October 2016 called for a second referendum, a decision through parliament or a general election to decide finally if Britain should leave the EU.[64] Former leader of the Conservative Prime Minister "John Major argued in November 2016 that parliament will have to ratify whatever deal is negotiated and then, depending on the deal there could be a case for a second referendum.[65]

Procedure for leaving the EU[edit]

United Kingdom invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union

"Withdrawal from the European Union is governed by "Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Under the "Article 50 invocation procedure a member notifies the "European Council and there is a negotiation period of up to two years, after which the treaties cease to apply – although a leaving agreement may be agreed,[66] although aspects such as trade may be difficult to negotiate until the UK has left the EU.[67]

Although the 2016 referendum act did not expressly require Article 50 to be invoked,[68] the UK government stated that they would expect a leave vote to be followed by withdrawal[69][70] despite government refusal to make contingency plans.[71] Following the referendum result Cameron resigned and said that it would be for the incoming Prime Minister to invoke Article 50.[72][73]

Letter from Theresa May invoking Article 50

The "Supreme Court ruled in "the Miller case in January 2017 that the government needed parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50.[74][75] After the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted, on 1 February 2017, for the government's bill authorising the prime minister to invoke Article 50,[76] the bill passed into law as the "European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017. Theresa May signed the letter invoking Article 50 on 28 March 2017, which was delivered on 29 March by "Tim Barrow, the UK's ambassador to the EU, to "Donald Tusk.[77][78][79]

Post Article 50 Legislation[edit]

Great Repeal Bill[edit]

Great Repeal Bill 2016

In October 2016, Theresa May promised a "Great Repeal Bill", which would repeal the "European Communities Act 1972 and restate in UK law all enactments previously in force under EU law. This bill will be introduced in the May 2017 "parliamentary session and "enacted before or during the Article 50 negotiations; it would not "come into force until the date of exit. It would smooth the transition by ensuring that all laws remain in force until specifically repealed.[80] Such a bill could raise constitutional issues regarding the devolution settlements with the UK nations, particularly in Scotland.[81]

Additional government bills[edit]

A report published in March 2017 by the "Institute for Government commented that, in addition to the Great Repeal Bill, primary and secondary legislation will be needed to cover the gaps in policy areas such as customs, immigration and agriculture.[82] The report also commented that the role of the devolved legislatures was unclear, and could cause problems, and as many as fifteen new additional Brexit Bills may be required, which would involve strict prioritisation and limiting Parliamentary time for in-depth examination of new legislation.[83]

The House of Lords continued to publish a series of reports on Brexit related subjects including:

Voting on the final outcome[edit]

Replying to questions at a parliamentary committee about Parliament's involvement in voting on the outcome of the negotiations with the EU, the Prime Minister said that "delivering on the vote of the British people to leave the European Union" was her priority. The opposition shadow Brexit secretary, "Keir Starmer, commented that the government did not want a vote at the beginning of the process, to trigger Article 50, nor a vote at the end.[84]


United Kingdom Brexit negotiations

The period for negotiation began on 29 March 2017 when the letter notifying withdrawal, signed by the United Kingdom's prime minister at "10 Downing Street, Westminster, was handed to the president of the European Council in Brussels.

Following the United Kingdom's notification under Article 50, draft guidelines for the negotiations were sent to EU delegations (of the 27 other member states) (EU27). The draft was prepared by the "President of the European Council. It states that the guidelines define the framework for negotiations under Article 50 and set out the overall positions and principles that the Union will pursue throughout the negotiation. It states that in the negotiations the Union's overall objective will be to preserve its interests, those of its Member States, its citizens and its businesses, and that, in the best interest of both sides, the Union will be constructive throughout and strive to find an agreement.

As part of the withdrawal negotiation there could be a proposal by EU27 for the UK to pay a "divorce bill", reportedly of up to £52bn, although a report of the European Union Committee of the House of Lords published on 4 March 2017 states that if there is no post-Brexit deal at the end of the two-year negotiating period, the UK could withdraw without payment.[85]

Negotiations are likely to be delayed until after the "United Kingdom general election which takes place on 8 June 2017.

Consequences of withdrawal for the United Kingdom[edit]

Aftermath of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016


Immigration was cited as the second most important reason for those voting to Leave. However, forecasts indicate that immigration flows to the UK will remain relatively high after Brexit.[86] Theresa May believes that if immigration stops there will be no negotiation between the UK and the EU.["clarification needed][87] Several thousand British citizens resident in other EU countries have after the referendum applied for citizenship where they live, since they fear losing the right to work there.[88]

Economic effects[edit]

Economic effects of Brexit

During the referendum, the economic arguments were a major area of debate. Remainers, including the UK treasury, argued that being in the EU has a strong positive effect on trade and as a result the UK's trade would be worse off if it left the EU.[89][90] Supporters of withdrawal from the EU have argued that the cessation of net contributions to the EU would allow for some cuts to taxes or increases in government spending.[91]

After the referendum the the "Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report funded by the "Economic and Social Research Council which warned that Britain would lose up to £70 billion in reduced economic growth if it didn't retain "Single Market membership with new trade deals unable to make up the difference.[92] One of these areas is financial services, which are helped by EU-wide "passporting" for financial products, which the "Financial Times estimates indirectly accounts for up to 71,000 jobs and 10 billion pounds of tax annually[93] and there are concerns that banks may relocate outside the UK.[94]

On 5 January 2017, "Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist and the Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics at the "Bank of England, admitted that forecasts predicting an economic downturn due to the referendum were inaccurate and noted strong market performance after the referendum,[95][96][97] although some have pointed to prices rising faster than wages.[98]

Effect on academic research[edit]

Brexit and arrangements for science and technology

The UK received more from the EU for research than it contributed[99] with universities getting a large proportion of their research income from the EU.[100] All funding for net beneficiaries from the EU, including universities, was guaranteed by the government in August 2016.[101] Before the funding announcement, a newspaper investigation reported that research projects were reluctant to employ British researchers due to uncertainties over funding.[102]

Currently the UK is part of the "European Research Area and the UK is likely to wish to remain an associated member.[103]


Before the referendum, leading figures with a range of opinions regarding "Scottish independence suggested that in the event the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU but Scotland as a whole voted to remain, a "second Scottish independence referendum might be precipitated.[104][105][106] In response to the result, on 24 June 2016, the "Scottish Government said officials would begin planning for a second independence referendum.[107] On 28 March 2017, the Scottish Parliament voted 69–59 on Motion S5M-04710, in favour of holding a second referendum on Scottish independence. [108]

Consequences of withdrawal on UK relationships with other EU countries[edit]

Options for continuing relationship with the EU[edit]

Continuing UK relationship with the EU

The UK's post Brexit relationship with the remaining EU members could take several forms. A research paper presented to the UK Parliament in July 2013 proposed a number of alternatives to membership which would continue to allow access to the EU internal market. These include remaining in the "European Economic Area,[109] negotiating deep bilateral agreements on the "Swiss model[110] or exit from the EU without EEA membership or a trade agreement under the "WTO Option. There may be an interim deal between the time the UK leaves the EU and when the final relationship comes in force.

Relations with the Republic of Ireland[edit]

The UK/Republic of Ireland border at Killeen marked only by a speed sign marked in km/h

The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole share, since the 1920s, a "Common Travel Area without border controls. According to statements by "Theresa May and "Enda Kenny, it is intended to maintain this arrangement.[111] After Brexit, in order to prevent illegal migration across the open Northern Irish border into the United Kingdom, the Irish and British governments suggested in October 2016 a plan whereby British border controls would be applied to Irish ports and airports. This would prevent a "hard border" arising between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.[112] However, this agreement was never official and was met by opposition from political parties in the Republic of Ireland[113] and there is still great uncertainty in relation to a 'hard border' between the Republic and Northern Ireland. On 23 March 2017 it was confirmed British Immigration officials would not be allowed to use Irish ports and airports in order to combat immigration concerns following Brexit.[114] A referendum for the "reunification of Ireland was suggested by "Sinn Féin leader "Martin McGuinness immediately after the UK EU referendum results were announced.[115] Creating a border control system between Ireland and Northern Ireland could jeopardise the "Good Friday Agreement established in 1998.[116]

Border with France[edit]

The President of the Regional Council of "Hauts-de-France, "Xavier Bertrand, stated in February 2016 that "If Britain leaves Europe, right away the border will leave "Calais and go to "Dover. We will not continue to guard the border for Britain if it's no longer in the European Union," indicating that the "juxtaposed controls would end with a leave vote. French Finance Minister "Emmanuel Macron also suggested the agreement would be "threatened" by a leave vote.[117] These claims have been disputed, as the "Le Touquet 2003 treaty enabling juxtaposed controls was not an EU treaty, and would not be legally void upon leaving.[118]

After the Brexit vote, Xavier Bertrand asked "François Hollande to renegotiate the Touquet agreement,[119] which can be terminated by either party with two years' notice.[120] Hollande rejected the suggestion, and said: "Calling into question the Touquet deal on the pretext that Britain has voted for Brexit and will have to start negotiations to leave the Union doesn't make sense." "Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister, confirmed there would be "no changes to the accord". He said: "The border at Calais is closed and will remain so."[121]

Gibraltar and Spain[edit]

Gibraltar after Brexit

During the campaign leading up to the referendum[122] the Chief Minister of Gibraltar warned that Brexit posed a threat to Gibraltar's safety.[123] Gibraltar overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU. After the result Spain's Foreign Minister renewed calls for joint Spanish–British control of the peninsula[124] These calls were strongly rebuffed by Gibraltar's Chief Minister[125] and questions were raised over the future of free-flowing traffic at the "Gibraltar–Spain border.[126] The British government states it will only negotiate on the sovereignty of Gibraltar with the consent of its people.[127]

Consequences of withdrawal for the EU[edit]

Shortly after the referendum, the German parliament published an analysis on the consequences of a Brexit on the EU and specifically on the economic and political situation of Germany.[128] According to this, Britain is, after the United States and France, the third most important export market for German products. In total Germany exports goods and services to Britain worth about "120 billion annually, which is about 8% of German exports, with Germany achieving a trade surplus with Britain worth €36.3 billion (2014). Should there be a "hard Brexit", exports would be subject to WTO customs and tariffs. The trade weighted average tariff is 2.4%, but the tariff on automobiles, for instance, is 9.7%, so trade in automobiles would be particularly affected; this would also affect German automobile manufacturers with production plants in the United Kingdom. In total, 750,000 jobs in Germany depend upon export to Britain, while on the British side about three million jobs depend on export to the EU. The study emphasises however that the predictions on the economic effects of a Brexit are subject to significant uncertainty.

According to the "Lisbon Treaty (2009), EU Council decisions made by "qualified majority voting can only be blocked if at least 4 members of the Council form a blocking minority. This rule was originally developed to prevent the three most populous members (Germany, France, Britain) from dominating the EU Council.[129] However, after a Brexit of the economically liberal British, the Germans and like-minded northern European countries (the Dutch, Scandinavians and Balts) would lose an ally and therefore also their blocking minority.[130] Without this blocking minority, other EU states could overrule Germany and its allies in questions of EU budget discipline or the recruitment of German banks to guarantee deposits in troubled southern European banks.[131]

With Brexit the EU would lose its second-largest economy, the country with the third-largest population and the financial centre of the world.[132] Furthermore, the EU would lose its second-largest net contributor to the EU budget (2015: Germany €14.3 billion, United Kingdom €11.5 billion, France €5.5 billion).[133]

Thus, the departure of Britain would result in an additional financial burden for the remaining net contributors unless the budget is reduced accordingly: Germany for example would have to pay an additional €4.5 billion for 2019 and again for 2020.["citation needed] In addition the UK would no longer be a shareholder in the "European Investment Bank, in which only EU members can participate. Britain's share amounts to 16%, €39.2 billion (2013), which Britain would withdraw unless there is an EU treaty change.[134] After a Brexit, the EU would lose its strongest military power,[135][136] one of its two members that possess nuclear weapons and are permanent members of the "United Nations Security Council.

A report by Tim Oliver of the "German Institute for International and Security Affairs expanded analysis of what a British withdrawal could mean for the EU: the report argues a UK withdrawal "has the potential to fundamentally change the EU and European integration. On the one hand, a withdrawal could tip the EU towards protectionism, exacerbate existing divisions, or unleash centrifugal forces leading to the EU's unravelling. Alternatively, the EU could free itself of its most awkward member, making the EU easier to lead and more effective."[137] Some authors also highlight the qualitative change in the nature of the EU membership after Brexit: "What the UK case has clearly shown in our view is that for the Union to be sustainable, membership needs to entail constant caretaking as far as individual members' contributions to the common good are concerned, with both rights and obligations."[138]

As of 15 November 2016 the "President of the European Parliament is considering moves to exclude British MEPs from key committee positions ahead of the exit talks. The President has written to the head of the conference of committee chairs asking him to gather information on how Britain's imminent departure will impact various EU documents passing through the parliament's committees. Among the issues that should be considered, the letter states, are the possible impact of the British departure on the legislative files currently under discussion in various committees, the impact if the files are not concluded before Britain leaves, and whether any of the files are likely to feature in the EU-UK withdrawal agreement.[139]

There has been debate about whether other member states will seek to follow Britain's example in leaving the European Union. However, it has been argued that most member states have a greater dependence on the EU than Britain, and that the economies of many of the smaller countries would struggle greatly to survive outside of the EU.[138]

Public opinion and comment[edit]

Public comment up to February 2017 UK white paper[edit]

Various EU leaders have said that they will not start any negotiation before the UK formally invokes Article 50. "Jean-Claude Juncker ordered all members of the EU Commission not to engage in any kind of contact with UK parties regarding Brexit.[140] In October 2016, he stated that he was agitated that the British had not developed a sense of community with Europeans during 40 years of membership; Juncker denied that Brexit was a warning for the EU, envisaged developing an EU defence policy without the British after Brexit, and rejected a suggestion that the EC should negotiate in such a way that Britain would be able to hold a second referendum.[141] On 5 November 2016, Juncker reacted to reports of some European businesses seeking to make agreements with the British government, and warned: "I am telling them [companies] that they should not interfere in the debate, as they will find that I will block their path."[142] Juncker stated in February 2017 that the UK would be expected to pay outstanding commitments to EU projects and pensions as part of the withdrawal process, suggesting such bills would be "very hefty."[143]

On 29 June, European Council president "Donald Tusk told the UK that they would not be allowed access to the "European Single Market unless they accepted its four freedoms of movement for goods, capital, services, and people.[144]

German foreign secretary "Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Britain's foreign secretary "Boris Johnson on 4 November 2016; Johnson stressed the importance of British-German relationships, whereas Steinmeier responded that the German view was that the UK should have voted to stay in the EU and that the German priority now was to preserve the remaining union of 27 members. There could be no negotiations before the UK formally gives notice. A long delay before beginning negotiations would be detrimental. Britain could not keep the advantages of the common market but at the same time cancel the "less pleasant rules".[145]

The First Minister of Scotland, "Nicola Sturgeon, stated that Scotland might refuse "consent for legislation required to leave the EU,[146] though some lawyers argue that Scotland cannot block Brexit.[147]

Newly appointed prime minister Theresa May made clear that negotiations with the EU required a "UK-wide approach". On 15 July 2016, she said: "I have already said that I won't be triggering article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations – I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger article 50."[148]

According to The Daily Telegraph, the "Department for Exiting the European Union spent over £250,000 on legal advice from top Government lawyers in two months and has plans to recruit more people. "Nick Clegg said the figures showed the Civil Service was unprepared for the very complex negotiations ahead.[149]

In the wake of the United Kingdom's vote to "leave the European Union, the "Department for International Trade (DIT) for striking and extending trade agreements between the UK and non-EU states was created by "Prime Minister "Theresa May, shortly after she took office on 13 July 2016.[150] It employs about 200 trade negotiators[151] and is overseen by the "Secretary of State for International Trade, currently "Liam Fox.

On 17 January 2017, Prime Minister "Theresa May, announced a series of 12 negotiating objectives in a speech at "Lancaster House. These consist of an end to "European Court of Justice jurisdiction, withdrawal from the "single market with a "comprehensive free-trade agreement" replacing this, a new customs agreement excluding the "common external tariff and "common commercial policy, an end to "free movement of people, co-operation in crime and terrorism, collaboration in areas of science and technology, engagement with devolved administrations, maintaining the "Common Travel Area with "Ireland, and preserving existing workers' rights.[152]

The Government has stated its intention to "secure the specific interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as those of all parts of England". Through the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations (JMC(EN)), the Government intends to involve the views of the "Scottish Parliament, the "Welsh Assembly and the "Northern Ireland Assembly in the process of negotiating the UK's exit from the EU. For instance, at the January 2017 meeting of the JMC(EN), the Scottish Government's proposal to remain in the "European Economic Area was considered.[153]

Public comment re and post Article 50 notification[edit]

"Nicola Sturgeon on behalf of the "Scottish National Party made increasing calls during March 2017 for a second Scottish independence referendum to be held in 2018 whilst "Opinion polling on Scottish independence indicated a majority did not want independence, stating that an independent Scotland would seek full membership of the European Union.[154]

EU negotiator "Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament's chief negotiator has said that: "All British citizens today have also EU citizenship. That means a number of things: the possibility to participate in the European elections, the freedom of travel without problem inside the union. We need to have an arrangement in which this arrangement can continue for those citizens who on an individual basis are requesting it." The suggestion being an “associate citizenship”.[155]

An EU meeting to discuss Brexit has been called for 29 April, "Donald Tusk stating that the "priority would be giving "clarity" to EU residents, business and member states about the talks ahead". "Michel Barnier, European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, has called for talks to be completed by October 2018 to give time for any agreement to be ratified before the UK leaves in March 2019.[156]

"Sinn Féin has called for a referendum to create a united Ireland following the Northern Ireland majority decision (56% to 44%) to vote no to Brexit and 2 March election for the "Northern Ireland Assembly where Sinn Féin increased the number of their seats.[157]

Post-referendum opinion polling[edit]

Following the EU referendum, there have been several opinion polls on the question of whether the UK was 'right' or 'wrong' to vote to leave the EU. The results of these polls are shown in the table below.

Date(s) conducted Right Wrong Undecided Lead Sample Conducted by Polling type Notes
20-21 Apr 2017 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,590 YouGov Online
18-19 Apr 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,727 YouGov Online
12-13 Apr 2017 45% 43% 12% 2% 2,069 YouGov Online
5-6 Apr 2017 46% 42% 11% 4% 1,651 YouGov Online
29 Mar 2017 The United Kingdom "invokes Article 50.[158]
26-27 Mar 2017 44% 43% 13% 1% 1,957 YouGov Online
20-21 Mar 2017 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,627 YouGov Online
1-15 Mar 2017 46% 41% 13% 5% 1,938 GfK Online
13-14 Mar 2017 44% 42% 15% 2% 1,631 YouGov Online
10-14 Mar 2017 49% 41% 10% 8% 2,003 Opinium Online
27-28 Feb 2017 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,666 YouGov Online
21-22 Feb 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 2,060 YouGov Online
12-13 Feb 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 2,052 YouGov Online
30-31 Jan 2017 45% 42% 12% 3% 1,705 YouGov Online
17-18 Jan 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,654 YouGov Online
17 Jan 2017 "Theresa May makes "Lancaster House speech, setting out her negotiating priorities.[159]
9-12 Jan 2017 52% 39% 9% 13% 2,005 Opinium Online
9-10 Jan 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,660 YouGov Online
3-4 Jan 2017 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,740 YouGov Online
18-19 Dec 2016 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,595 YouGov Online
4-5 Dec 2016 44% 42% 14% 2% 1,667 YouGov Online
28-29 Nov 2016 44% 45% 11% -1% 1,624 YouGov Online
14-15 Nov 2016 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,717 YouGov Online
19-20 Oct 2016 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,608 YouGov Online
11-12 Oct 2016 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,669 YouGov Online
2 Oct 2016 Theresa May makes "Conservative Party Conference speech, announcing her intention to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.[160]
13-14 Sep 2016 46% 44% 10% 2% 1,732 YouGov Online
30-31 Aug 2016 47% 44% 9% 3% 1,687 YouGov Online
22-23 Aug 2016 45% 43% 12% 2% 1,660 YouGov Online
16-17 Aug 2016 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,677 YouGov Online
8-9 Aug 2016 45% 44% 12% 1% 1,692 YouGov Online
1-2 Aug 2016 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,722 YouGov Online
13 Jul 2016 Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[161]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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