Brexit has been a common topic throughout the world since June 23, 2016. It is a term used to describe the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The United Kingdom is a sovereign state in Northern Europe that consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
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In 2016, these four countries took part in a referendum, or a vote in which all people in an area are invited to vote on a particular proposal. The vote was to decide whether or not the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. England voted to leave the European Union, by a vote of 53.4% to 46.6%. Wales also voted to leave, with a vote of 52.5% to 47.5%. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union, with Scotland at a high remain vote rate of 62% to 38% (Hunt & Wheeler, 2017). By 2019, Britain is planning to leave the European Union completely, which will cause many consequences for England and its people, and has already begun to take a toll on the country.
The UK joined the European Union in 1973 along with Denmark and Ireland, and held a referendum to confirm their membership in 1975. Today, there are 28 countries in the European Union, which includes almost all European countries. Some countries that are not members include Switzerland, Turkey, Iceland, and Norway (A history of the UK’s EU membership, 2016). In short, the EU is a political and economic union of the current 28 members that are primarily located in Europe. The goals of the EU are to promote peace and the well-being of its citizens, offer freedom without internal borders, and combat social exclusion and discrimination. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe. As a whole, the EU can be viewed as a unit similar to that of the United States, but instead of states, it’s nations. The main economic engine of the EU is the single market. The main use is to enable goods, services, money, and people to move freely, which is why Brexit is seen as a negative to many people (The EU in brief, 2018).
Prime Minister David Cameron called for the referendum in 2016 because he wanted to stop pro-Brexit opposition within his Conservative party. Unfortunately, his plan backfired and the ani-immigration and anti-EU arguments won (Amadeo). After the referendum took place, Cameron resigned from his position, and Queen Elizabeth II appointed Theresa May as the new Prime Minister of Britain. Before serving as the Prime Minister, May was the longest-serving Home Secretary in over 60 years. May is the second female Prime Minister in the UK after Margaret Thatcher. Cameron was against the British exit from the European Union, along with almost half of the United Kingdom. During the referendum, May was also against Brexit, but has since changed her mind because she feels it is what the people of the United Kingdom want (Hunt & Wheeler, 2017).
An article published in June of 2018 by The Independent, a British online newspaper, discusses the impact Brexit has had on England in the last two years. The first serious impact the article discusses is the decline in the value of the British currency since the vote of Brexit. The article states, “the pound plummeted to a 31-year low, dropping 10 percent against the dollar” (Morrison, 2018). The weakening of the value of the pound has resulted in traveling abroad for those living in England much more expensive because of the currency exchange rates. The current rate of the pound to USD exchange in 2018 is 1.27. This still does not compare to the 1.50 rate that existed before the referendum took place in 2016. Another impact the vote has had on England is the loss they will experience of companies that currently do business there. One example is Airbus, which is a European aerospace corporation, that has stated they will “reconsider investments in the UK” if Britain leaves the single market and customs union without having a proper transition agreement in place (Morrison, 2018). With companies threatening to relocate to other countries, England is being presented with an issue of a lack of jobs. They also have been experiencing a lack of skilled workers to fill positions. According to the article, “a survey revealed 90 percent of employers are struggling to find the staff they need, and two-thirds believe the skills gap will either fail to improve, or get worse post-Brexit” (Morrison, 2018). Implementing Brexit will cause an inflexible immigration system, as opposed to the relaxed system England currently has that allows citizens from other European Union countries to live and work in England without needing to apply for citizenship.
Although England voted for Brexit in the referendum, those who were for leaving the EU did not win by much. The people of England have varied opinions on the decision and current process that Brexit is undergoing. Throughout my research, I have found many lists of advantages and disadvantages to the British exit from the European Union. One pro of leaving the EU is the alleviation of the economic cost of EU membership, which is estimated to be around 11 percent of England’s annual GDP. Those in favor of Brexit, called Brexiters, say the money saved from membership feed could be much better spent on new British industries and scientific research. Another positive of cutting ties with the EU is the opportunity for England and the rest of the UK to be able to freely and independently pursue trade deals with new countries such as China, India, and the United States. Nigel Farage, a British politician and member of the European Parliament, believes Britain could take this opportunity to create an agreement similar to that of Norway’s, which allows them access to the EU’s single market system without being bound by EU agriculture, justice, or home affairs laws. One issue that has gained a lot of attention in the Brexit debate is immigration, which the UK currently has no control over in terms of the movement to and from other EU member states. Some argue that England is at a greater risk of a terror attack with the free movement between EU states, because citizens of those states are not required to impose visa requirements, work permits, quotas or other immigration restrictions (Nagesh, 2016).
On the other side of the argument, there are some advantages to England and the UK being apart of the European Union. The EU is one of the world’s largest markets, and it accounts for 25 percent of the global GDP. It is also currently the UK’s largest trading partner, with 25 percent of the exports to the EU, and 50 percent of imports from the EU. After Brexit occurs, England will be forced to find other nations to trade with, which can be seen as a negative or a positive because it could open doors to trade deals with countries like the United States, as mentioned in the previous paragraph. Another con of England leaving the EU is the many directives they have introduced in terms of workers rights. These include regulated work hours and break times, at least four weeks of guaranteed annual leave, four months of paid parental leave and extra protections for pregnant workers, anti-discrimination laws, and protection for workers when companies change ownership. Leaving the EU also eliminates England’s say on regulations and decisions within the Union, and could still be subject to the EU laws and regulations if a relationship like Norway is developed in order to still access the single market (Nagesh, 2016).
One factor for the British that can be seen as both a pro and a con is that of travel. As previously mentioned, the value of the pound has decreased, which has made it more expensive for those living in England to travel to countries that use a different currency. Also, visa-less travel across EU nations has created an ease of travel for the British that will no longer be available after the completion of Brexit. On the other hand, the implementation of a more strict immigration policy could possibly benefit England, because those without a visa or work permits will not be allowed to find or keep jobs in England, which will allow for more jobs to open up to those who live there. This would in turn lower the unemployment rate for the British, and allow jobs in the country to go to those that actually live there, rather than those who may live in another European country and are just visiting with the ease of EU travel. The argument is double sided, though, because British workers will no longer be allowed to go to other EU nations to seek employment (Nagesh, 2016).
The topic of Brexit deals with many aspects of global communication and leadership, with examples like how the EU implemented working rights for employees and ways that Brexit will open doors to new trade deals with other countries. It also relates back to class readings and lectures. Specifically, the process of Brexit falls into Hofstede’s four dimensions theory. Hofstede was a Dutch management researcher that studied cultural differences among nations. He identified four dimensions used to describe culture that include individualism and collectivism, masculinity and femininity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede, 1983). England is a very individualistic culture, and that is seen in their desire to move away from the group of 28 members of the European Union in order to operate on their own. The British are a generally highly individualistic and private people, and encourage their children from a young age to pursue their own path and be unique. England is a masculine culture, and is a society that is driven by success, achievement, and competition. They want to leave the EU so they can be successful on their own, and not have to rely on another for their achievements. England sits low in power distance rankings, and its people believe in equality (Country Comparison).
In general, England ranks very low on the uncertainty avoidance scale. As a nation, they are content with the unknown and are comfortable with ambiguous situations (Country Comparison). However, Brexit changes this ranking due to the amount of uncertainty surrounding the process. Since it has begun in 2016, England and the UK as a whole has been very up in the air in almost all aspects of life. They mostly just have to wait for the proposal of Brexit to get approved from all parties, and then still must wait until March of 2019 for anything to actually happen. This has caused the nation a lot of anxiety and uncertainty that otherwise would not exist if it weren’t for Brexit. An article published by Bustle reads, “A 2017 survey commissioned by the Young Women’s Trust of over 3,000 18 to 30 year olds in England and Wales found that a third of participants felt their mental health had deteriorated in the year after the Brexit result, with two out of every five respondents naming Brexit as a cause of anxiety”(Cumberbatch, 2018). This survey proves that Brexit has been found as a cause of anxiety for many in England and has lowered its ranking of uncertainty avoidance.
Brexit has already began to take a toll on England and its people, and will continue to do so until March of 2019. Following the British exit from the European Union, there will be many consequences that can be seen as good and bad to its citizens. There are many pros and cons to England and the UK’s exit from the EU, and the outcome can be viewed differently to all involved. Theresa May has been working hard since appointed as Prime Minister to make the people of Britain happy, and is trying to make the process of Brexit go as smooth as possible.
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