A History of Brexit

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JMR2021_
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The History of Brexit



On the 23rd June 2016, the British electorate voted 52%-48% to leave the European Union. But how did this all come about and how has the movement of Euroscepticism grown in the UK.

Early Euroscepticism

Euroscepticism has always played a major role in British politics- Britain has always seemed more comfortable with being allied with partners such as the United States and other English-speaking countries as opposed to those on the continent. However, Britain did end up joining the Common Market in 1973- and this was confirmed by a referendum in 1975. At the time, left wing Euroscepticism was perhaps the more prominent strand- with Labour politicians such as Tony Benn MP arguing for leaving the Common Market/EU. However there were also those on the right, such as Enoch Powell. Despite this, Britain continued in the Common Market without too much controversy. Margaret Thatcher, who did at first support the UK’s membership of the Single Market did however become disgruntled at the amount of money the UK wanted to spend, and she negotiated a rebate for the UK, meaning the UK to this day contributes slightly less to the EU’s budget. She was also an opponent for plans regarding a single currency.

Maastricht Treaty and Growing Euroscepticism

The Single Market slowly began to be more integrated and have greater control over member states. This lead to greater Euroscepticism in the UK, more so now in the Conservative Party. The UK opted out of the Single Euro Currency, which again made it more of a unique member in the European Community. These fears of a growing economic and political union manifested itself in more Eurosceptic political parties. These included the Referendum Party (by James Goldsmith) which stood in the 1997 General Election- winning 2.6% of the popular vote. The now more famous United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) was founded in 1993, and won representation in the European Parliament in 1999. Calls for greater integration and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s willingness to take Britain into the single currency surely boosted the Eurosceptic cause.

Modern Euroscepticism and how the referendum came about

The European Union continued to grow, both in terms of geographical size, and in how integrated it was becoming. A new wave of Eastern European countries joined in 2004. At first it was predicted that free movement would bring, at most, tens of thousands of Eastern European migrants to the EU. In reality, there were more than a million. This was a huge boost to the European cause. Combined with the financial crash in 2008 and great job losses, people blamed their loss of jobs and culture to the European immigration, and the failures of the EU. Euroscepticism had immigration concerns at its forefront now, and was one of the defining purposes of the Leave campaigners in the 2016 Referendum. UKIP had growing support, winning the UK European Parliament Elections in 2014, and winning 12.6% of the popular vote in the 2015 General Election. This put pressure on Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron whose party was at threat by voters turning to UKIP. He therefore promised a referendum on the matter in the 2015 Conservative Manifesto to put the issue to bed. The Conservatives won the election, and legislation was passed to have the referendum on the 23rd June 2016.

The Referendum

It was widely believed by most pollsters and political pundits that Remain would win the Referendum. They had the backing of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party. However, there was growing support in the polls for the Leave campaign and the campaign was spearheaded by politicians such as Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove. The key issues of the campaign were immigration and jobs for the Leave campaign, and the economic benefits of the EU for the Remain Campaign. Leave was often accused of xenophobia or false information given to the public, such as £350 million a week going to the EU, whereas the net amount was less due to Thatcher’s rebate and EU money coming back into the UK. The Remain campaign was also accused of scaremongering regarding Britain going into recession if it left the EU, and that the UK could not survive if it went it alone. Ultimately, the large turnout by those disillusioned with the EU and establishment politics swung the result to the Leave campaign, who won by a slim but sizeable 52% of the vote. The often ‘forgotten’ parts of Britain were those who voted most strongly for Leave, but Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London voted most strongly for Remain. Although the referendum resulted in our notification to the European Union of our withdrawal in 2017, and our ultimate departure in 2019, what the consequences of this will be in the long term are yet to be seen.
Last edited by JMR2021_; 3 years ago
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by JMR2018)

The History of Brexit


On the 23rd June 2016, the British electorate voted 52%-48% to leave the European Union. But how did this all come about and how has the movement of Euroscepticism grown in the UK.

Early Euroscepticism

Euroscepticism has always played a major role in British politics- Britain has always seemed more comfortable with being allied with partners such as the United States and other English-speaking countries as opposed to those on the continent. However, Britain did end up joining the single market in 1973- and this was confirmed by a referendum in 1975. At the time, left wing Euroscepticism was perhaps the more prominent strand- with Labour politicians such as Tony Benn MP arguing for leaving the Common Market/EU. However there were also those on the right, such as Enoch Powell. Despite this, Britain continued in the Common Market without too much controversy. Margaret Thatcher, who did at first support the UK’s membership of the Single Market did however become disgruntled at the amount of money the UK wanted to spend, and she negotiated a rebate for the UK, meaning the UK to this day contributes slightly less to the EU’s budget. She was also an opponent for plans regarding a single currency.

Maastricht Treaty and Growing Euroscepticism

The Single Market slowly began to be more integrated and have greater control over member states. This lead to greater Euroscepticism in the UK, more so now in the Conservative Party. The UK opted out of the Single Euro Currency, which again made it more of a unique member in the European Community. These fears of a growing economic and political union manifested itself in more Eurosceptic political parties. These included the Referendum Party (by James Goldsmith) which stood in the 1997 General Election- winning 2.6% of the popular vote. The now more famous United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) was founded in 1993, and won representation in the European Parliament in 1999. Calls for greater integration and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s willingness to take Britain into the single currency surely boosted the Eurosceptic cause.

Modern Euroscepticism and how the referendum came about

The European Union continued to grow, both in terms of geographical size, and in how integrated it was becoming. A new wave of Eastern European countries joined in 2004. At first it was predicted that free movement would bring, at most, tens of thousands of Eastern European migrants to the EU. In reality, there were more than a million. This was a huge boost to the European cause. Combined with the financial crash in 2008 and great job losses, people blamed their loss of jobs and culture to the European immigration, and the failures of the EU. Euroscepticism had immigration concerns at its forefront now, and was one of the defining purposes of the Leave campaigners in the 2016 Referendum. UKIP had growing support, winning the UK European Parliament Elections in 2014, and winning 12.6% of the popular vote in the 2015 General Election. This put pressure on Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron whose party was at threat by voters turning to UKIP. He therefore promised a referendum on the matter in the 2015 Conservative Manifesto to put the issue to bed. The Conservatives won the election, and legislation was passed to have the referendum on the 23rd June 2016.

The Referendum

It was widely believed by most pollsters and political pundits that Remain would win the Referendum. They had the backing of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party. However, there was growing support in the polls for the Leave campaign and the campaign was spearheaded by politicians such as Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove. The key issues of the campaign were immigration and jobs for the Leave campaign, and the economic benefits of the EU for the Remain Campaign. Leave was often accused of xenophobia or false information given to the public, such as £350 million a week going to the EU, whereas the net amount was less due to Thatcher’s rebate and EU money coming back into the UK. The Remain campaign was also accused of scaremongering regarding Britain going into recession if it left the EU, and that the UK could not survive if it went it alone. Ultimately, the large turnout by those disillusioned with the EU and establishment politics swung the result to the Leave campaign, who won by a slim but sizeable 52% of the vote. The often ‘forgotten’ parts of Britain were those who voted most strongly for Leave, but Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London voted most strongly for Remain. Although the referendum resulted in our notification to the European Union of our withdrawal in 2017, and our ultimate departure in 2019, what the consequences of this will be in the long term are yet to be seen.
Well, I’m glad we joined the single market in 1973, particularly since it didn’t exist until 1992. Presumably Jon Pertwee’s Doctor Who brought this about?
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ColinDent
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Some of us wanted a referendum before Maastricht as it was a fundamental change to the treaty but good old Mr Major just used the now defunct (in matters involving the EU at least) Royal Prerogative, the issue of our EU membership would have been solved there and then.
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