“Brexit” is the abbreviation used for a British exit from the EU. For many years there have been groups in the UK lobbying for Britain to leave the EU on the grounds that it reduces Britain’s sovereignty and is not economically worthwhile. A political party, the UK Independence Party, UKIP, has grown over the years as people have accepted the arguments against the EU, and have tired of the established political system. In fact, in many places UKIP replaced the Liberal Democratic Party as the third party, or even came second, since the Labor Party is in a steep decline. This is because it lost all of its seats in Scotland to the Scottish National Party (SNP), and because it has a habit of choosing so-called un-electable very left wing leaders, like Ed Milliband and Jeremy Corbyn. But, one of the main opponents to Britain’s membership in the EU has been a minority of Conservative MP’s, the so-called Euro-skeptics. To outflank these members of his own party and to finally resolve this issue, PM Cameron promised in the last election in 2015, if re-elected, he would introduce a referendum on British membership in the EU before the end of 2017.
Cameron has recently been negotiating changes in the EU agreement to accommodate Britain’s requirements. He has been engaged in a round of meetings with other EU members, including France, Germany and Italy, as well as with the leadership of the EU. In fact, if changes are made to the EU agreement with Britain this will affect all other members, so these are important considerations and will cause changes in the basic EU constitution based on various treaties, the most important of which was the Maastricht Treaty of 1992.
Cameron has negotiated five specific issues with the the EU: These are: 1. A commitment that there will be no further loss of British sovereignty to the EU, in other words an “opt-out” clause to “an ever closer union”; 2. Continued British control over its own economy (Britain remains outside the eurozone), particularly control over the economic services of the City of London; 3. Britain will be able to control migration by requiring that all migrants have a job offer before entering the UK (similar to the US approach); 4. EU migrants will not be able to claim welfare benefits until they have worked in the UK for 4 years; 5. Cut red tape in business relations with the EU in order to free the development of British business ties with the EU. These issues are being negotiated by Cameron with the European Commission and will need to be affirmed by the European Parliament.
Cameron has now announced that the referendum, which will be only the third ever in British history, will be held before the end of 2017. It will consist of a simple question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The result of this vote could have tremendous consequences for Britain and the EU, and many predict a disaster if the vote goes against Cameron and British membership in the EU. Let’s hope it will not.