4 Sound Bites to Help You Make Sense of Brexit

The Queen gave Royal Assent to the Brexit Bill last week, allowing Theresa May to begin the process of removing the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU).  It was announced today that Article 50 will be triggered March 29, leaving us Brits, and the rest of the world closer to finding out the implications of our divorce from the EU. The Collins Dictionary named “Brexit”, one of its top 10 words of 2016 and it has had a permanent presence in daily media since the result was announced June 23, 2016. Despite our differences of opinion, the one thing we can all agree on is our uncertainty of what Brexit actually entails.

Fear not, this article has rounded up four Theresa May Sound Bites to entertain and MAYbe even inform you on the upcoming proceedings.

1. “No running commentary”


This soundbite was prevalent last year as every (wo)man, their dog and their dog’s half-chewed newspaper speculated on what exactly Brexit meant. The prime minister quashed rumours and questions for more information, stating that plans and discussions would happen behind closed doors to avoid “revealing our hand prematurely”.  Whilst some world leaders tweet their every thought impetuously, Theresa May saved up hers for the speech she gave in January (see next point).

2. “Brexit means Brexit” (except when “Brexit means Breakfast”)


But what does it actually mean? Unfortunately, until Article 50 is triggered and negotiations are underway, nobody can say for certain. Former Labour MP Baroness Smith of Basildon labelled the slogan as “unwise” due to the uncertainty it caused.  From what we know, Brexit is going to be the UK’s complete break away from the EU. In a speech made January 17, Theresa May set out 12 objectives that the UK government will use to negotiate Brexit. This list gives us the biggest insight into the leave. The first one is appropriately titled “Certainty”.

Click the arrow below to find out:

1. Certainty

There will be no automatic change of British rules and laws, even those adopted from the European Communities Act. The prime minister states that British Parliament will “decide on any changes to that law after full scrutiny and proper Parliamentary debate.” The final Brexit deal will also be put to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it is implemented. A survey ran by Talk to the Pen showed concerns due to the current uncertainty such as housing costs, the value of the pound and savings, as well as travel rights.

2. Control of our own laws

Many voted to leave the EU on this objective. May states that post-Brexit, the UK’s laws will be made within the country. The Greener UK coalition has warned against the sacrifice of certain Environmental EU laws for example.

3. Strengthen the Union

Teresa May has stated that the devolved powers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will contribute to the “process of planning from our departure from the European Union”. Scotland’s first minister has been vocal in her attempts to secure the best deal from Westminster for her country. With both Northern Ireland and Scotland voting to remain inside the EU, the four nations will need to work on patching up their own relationship before they fragment the British-EU one.

4. Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland

Once the UK “brexits”, it will still share a land border with the EU. Although not yet clear how, the prime minister wants to maintain the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland whilst still controlling immigration.

5. Control of immigration

The allure of controlling immigration into the UK played on many a Leave voter’s mind. This objective will likely sour negotiations with the EU who already feels Britain had an advantage outside of the Schengen system. Whether the control is a points-based system or having a stiff upper lip to put up with British weather remains to be seen.

6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU

The prime minister has spoken out in support of this in the past and has already offered to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK, for the rights of Brits in the EU. However “one or two” EU leaders have snubbed this agreement. As a Brit that enjoys living in the Netherlands, I’m not ready to dust off my suitcase and pound coins just yet.

7. Protect workers’ rights

Theresa May has assured the public that she will continue to protect workers, by translating the current EU law into domestic policy.

8. Free trade with European markets

9. New trade agreements with other countries

10. The best place for science and innovation

11. Co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism

The four points above all include continued collaboration with our European neighbours beyond our official exit. As the saying goes, “there is no I in team”. There had been concern over funding for Science and Research in the UK with the loss of European grants, however, Philip Hammond promised a £4.7 billion increase in Science and innovation investment in his Autumn statement last year.

12. A smooth, orderly Brexit

First, there was the Hard versus the Soft Brexit, then came along the Red, White and Blue Brexit. The first proved too binary for both the Remainers and Leavers alike. A hard Brexit implied a clean but painful break, whereas soft suggested a sticky, messy retreat, with some leftover ties to the EU. The prime minister tried her hand once more to shroud her Brexit intentions, this time underneath a metaphorical Union Jack tea towel, however, we just couldn’t seem to get our heads around it. Her smooth, orderly description finally gives us a literal sense of what we can expect.

3. “No deal is better than a bad deal”

Theresa May has repeatedly reminded Brussels that she is not prepared to back down on her Brexit objectives. Last week’s U-turn over the national insurance hike for the self-employed in the face of media criticism may suggest otherwise. A recent YouGov survey (see image below), found that most Brits 33% believe that “the European Union needs the UK more than the UK needs the European Union”.  On the other hand, 37% of German respondents begged to differ, stating that “the UK needs the European Union more than the European Union needs the UK”. European Council president Donald Tusk warned on March 15 that a “no deal” on an agreement would hit Britain the hardest. Horns will continue to clash as the UK and EU member states thrash out negotiations on the Brexit plan.

Results of a YouGov Survey made up of seven countries (Yougov.co.uk)

4. “Now is not the time”

These were the words from the prime minister to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon in an interview on March 16, 2017. Sturgeon has been vocal about a second Scottish independence referendum since the results of the EU referendum June 23, 2016. She had called on Monday for Indy Ref 2 to take place in Autumn 2018, the point at which the Brexit process should be reaching its conclusion. However, the prime minister has dismissed this proposal, stating,

“I think we should be working to get the right deal for Scotland and the UK with our future partnership with the European Union. “It would be unfair to the people of Scotland that they would be being asked to make a crucial decision without the information they need to make that decision.

62%  to 38% of Scotland voted to remain in the EU in June’s referendum. Controversially, during IndyRef(1), Westminister suggested that Scotland would stay in the EU if they remained a part of the union. This resulted in 55% to 45% voting to stay in the United Kingdom. Recent calls for a Brexit negotiation to allow Scotland to remain within the EU were quashed by the British Government.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has stated that the referendum should be held once Britain has left the EU. This would allow voters to experience a post-EU UK before they make up their minds on Scottish independence. A recent poll from What Scotland Thinks shows current support for Scotland to Leave the UK at 37% to 48%. However, the effects of Brexit negotiations with the EU will likely strengthen or weaken previous voter’s views. Watch this space.

– Sarah Maclean-Morris

Featured image stubblepatrol.com.

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