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Brexit was an election in the UK that took place on June 23, 2016 to decide if Britain should exit the European Union. The result of the controversial referendum was 51.9 percent voted to leave the EU while 48.1 favored staying. Here are historic facts about Brexit that should be considered when studying this event.


Brief British History with the EU

The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under Prime Minister Edward Heath of the Conservative Party. Voters reaffirmed the decision in a 1975 referendum. During the 70s and 80s it was the left-leaning British Labour Party that called for complete withdrawal.

In 1992 the Maastricht Treaty transformed the EC into the EU, which united European countries as a single market. The treaty advocated four basic freedoms, which involved free movement of goods, services, capital and people within the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party, who announced in 2013 there would be a referendum on whether to leave or remain, resigned after Brexit passed in 2016. Cameron had believed the “remain” vote would easily pass. He was succeeded by fellow party member Theresa May, who announced she would resign in May 2019 after failing to construct an exit plan suitable for her constituency.

The places where the “Leave” vote was prominent included rural areas and small towns of England and Wales. The “Remain” support was strong in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Young voters leaned toward “Remain” while older voters mainly voted for “Leave.”


Withdrawal Debate

May was succeeded as UK Prime Minister in July 2019 by Boris Johnson, an advocate for complete withdrawal from the EU. May’s plans to exit the EU were rejected by Parliament three times during 2019 prior to her resignation. She was unable to negotiate a solution with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The deadline for deciding on whether to abandon the EU completely is set for October 31, 2019. Another part of the debate involves how closely the UK will remain tied with the EU in terms of European trade rules. Johnson has pledged for Britain to leave the EU by this deadline, regardless of whether or not a deal is reached.

Britain’s economy is projected to shrink in the next 15 years by 4-9 percent after leaving the EU, depending on the exit plan. Labour Party members favor a soft Brexit, which means becoming a member of the European Economic Area, the European Customs Union or both. One of the main lingering issues is what to do at the political boundary between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and its neighbor Ireland, which wants to remain in the EU. May opposed immigration checkpoints at the border.


One of the direct effects of Brexit has been that several British companies have decided on or are considering moving their operations to other nations instead of worrying about what happens between Britain and the EU.


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