Does Brexit Actually Mean Brexit?
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
Boy, it's been a haphazard time for British politics recently. Votes of no confidence from left, right and centre (well, mainly from the right....) caused uncertainty over May's position and how she's a Prime Minister who's about as strong and stable as a bent lamppost. The required forty-eight letters to the 1922 Committee led to the actual vote being triggered and granted Theresa May immunity for another twelve months. Arguably, Theresa May hasn't had it easy by any means. To be fair to her, she was shoved in the pool at the deep-end quite forcefully and with the way the situation appeared to be going, it seemed that all the lifeguards were off-duty and that the pool was being drained. However, with all of this Brexit brouhaha and all of the different conceivable policies from all sides, does Brexit really mean Brexit?
Let's take a look from the very beginning. David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, when re-elected in the 2015 General Election, promised to deliver an in-or-out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union before the end of 2017. The referendum itself took place on 23rd June 2016 or as some Brexiteers (otherwise known as Nigel Farage & His Merry Band) called it - Independence Day. In the opinion polls beforehand, the general consensus was that Britain was to remain in the EU and everything would stay the same. Rather the opposite happened when the referendum's results came in. 52% of people voted to Leave the EU, compared to the 48% deciding to Remain. Now, fifty-two is indeed bigger than forty-eight, so, where's the issue? The issue is that some people weren't happy with this somewhat miraculous and surprising turn of events and all started running around like headless chickens making claims that the British economy would be in utter tatters and that we would never recover from such economic turmoil. Now, as with any big decision in politics such as Brexit, there are both a myriad of factors to consider with regards to economic stability and also issues surrounding free trade with the rest of Europe.
In theory, free trade and subsequent trade deals should be rather simple. It is a mere case of going to another country saying "We want to buy some of your products. Can we buy some of your products please? In return, have some of ours." - Trade deal done, right? Or so you'd think. Rather unfortunately for the British, leaving the confines of the Single Market and/or Customs Union means that making said deals ultimately becomes an awful lot harder. However, a loss of trade is an issue for both sides. Forty percent of the German automotive industry’s exports come to the UK and likewise, of the 80% of Jaguar Land-Rover, Toyota and Nissan production exported, 54% ends up in the EU. On the flip-side to that, the EU countries represent eighty-two percent of Britain's motor vehicle import volume which is worth a staggering €38 billion or £33.65 billion at current exchange rates. Therefore, it would be detrimental for both parties if trade were to be lost, not only for the automotive industry, but for other industries besides. Since the UK has a negative trade balance (Imports > Exports), imports are pretty key to the economy and so to lose free trade would be a pretty bad thing.
As a result of that, we can say that a 'No Deal' in terms of the economic consequences isn't the best outcome. Therefore, what is? Do we go for May's deal that's currently clambering its way through Parliament with the spates of resignations to go with it? Do we go for a 'No Deal'? Do we even have a 'People's Vote'? Now, the whole Second Referendum argument has been around since Brexit's happening more or less and to be honest, I don't really see the point. The government has gone through all the hassle to get what they think is the best deal for Britain so would they then just u-turn so people get a second choice? If that's the case, what was the point of having the initial referendum in the first place? Moreover, say the Second Referendum sways to 'Leave' again - then what? Was that first referendum just a mere opinion poll and this second one wouldn't be? Maybe I'm a tad disillusioned but I personally view a second referendum as a shooting in the foot; it makes no real sense. What would make sense however is a General Election, which would be more representative of the will of the people by potentially voting someone in who would get the job done better in theory. However, theory and practice are two different things entirely. In theory, a General Election could work with a better deal potentially being negotiated, but in practice, the General Election may cause even more trouble with the changes of personnel possibly stagnating the negotiation process.
In truth, it's probably worth just seeing through what we've got as there's little to no point in going back after the travesty it appears to have all been, judging by what the news outlets have been saying. Whether Brexit actually means Brexit is a different kettle of fish entirely - it's all dependent upon what you define as Brexit and with so many definitions being thrown around in the last two-and-a-half years, it's rather difficult to offer a definitive answer. Brexit, in all honesty, just translates to "What the hell are we doing? Help!" and nothing else.