Separation from integration processes among groups of countries can be problematic just as in marriages or relationships. Sometimes the separation is orderly and amicable, such as Jamaica’s departure from the West Indies Federation.
But it can be extremely difficult as is the case with Brexit. Eighteen months ago, a referendum was held in Britain on June 23, 2016 in which 51.9 percent of Brits voted to leave the European Union (EU). Since then, some progress has been slow and both sides seem frustrated over some unresolved issues.
Among them is the demand by the European Union (EU) for Britain to pay billions of pounds to the EU. Then there is the border problem between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Third, the EU has refused to discuss trade until the Irish border issue is resolved because any trade deal without a settlement of the border will allow Britain to have the same benefits as being in the EU.
If there is no agreement on the border issue, trade would be based on the rules of the World Trade Organization. And the fourth is the status and rights of the 1.2 million British people living in Europe and the 3.2 million Europeans living in the United Kingdom (UK), of which 80 percent of them will be eligible for permanent residence by the 2019 exit date.
However, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is mired in uncertainty because it is the first country to leave the bloc, which means that the process is untested. Meanwhile, as the negotiations proceed, the economic growth rate in the UK has deteriorated, its currency (pound) has dropped and the financial sector is haemorrhaging. Experts have predicted that Brexit could erode the role of London as a premier international financial centre and catapult the world’s fifth largest economy into crisis with the loss of jobs, taxes and other revenue.
However, recent polls in the UK have shown that a majority is now opposed to Britain leaving the EU. Scotland and Ireland are against leaving the EU, and could opt out if the deal does not suit them. This could mean the end of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Several people, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair has suggested that the UK could change its position and remain in the EU. His opinion has gained popular support as the public became aware of the cost and difficulties of Brexit.
Similar views were expressed by several constitutional relations experts such as Scotland’s Minister of Business and Constitutional Affairs, Michael Russell and the current President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk. France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel have expressed similar views.
Others, have claimed that the law is not totally clear on this, but there are some wiggle room. Britain’s Justice Secretary, Elizabeth Truss opined that once Article 50 is triggered, the process is irrevocable and the UK Supreme Court has concurred. But Britain could indeed change its mind and remain in the EU as stipulated in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which establishes guidelines for entry and exit into the union.
However, the most pronounced viewpoint on Brexit came from the British Ambassador to the EU from 1990 to 1995 and author of Article 50 Lord John Kerr, who said: Britain can change its mind while the process is going on.
According to Lord Kerr, the British people have a right to know that reconciliation is still possible and they should not be misled into believing otherwise because there is nothing in Article 50 to prevent Britain from reversing its decision to leave the EU. The House of Lords was given the same advice by its legal counsel.
However, Prime Minister Theresa May, who is under heavy pressure to please right-wing members of her Conservative Party who supported Brexit has explicitly stated that a political decision has been made for Britain to exit the EU and there can be no turning back. Brexit is at a crossroad.
Oct 16, 2018By Sean Devers in Trinidad In association with Regal, Vnet, Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel In murky conditions and played before virtually empty stands, Guyana Jaguars, led by a 79-run...
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