Across the pond, one of the most exciting things since America declaring independence is currently going on; Brexit. This is the leaving, or exit, of Great Britain from the European Union. This was invoked by the UK’s government on March 29th, 2017. They presented Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which states “Any Member State May decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance to its own constitutional requirements”. Now, the real question is, will they really leave?
March 29th, 2017
A close vote of 51.9% to 48.1% has decided the following 9 months, and Theresa May signing the letter of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has decided the course of the following 2 years. Since its formation in 1957, the UK has been the first country to invoke Article 50 and try to leave European Union.
Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for
its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
The Lisbon Treaty clarifies things not talked about in the constitution, especially how the government would function with more members, seeing that it started with 6 countries and now has 25. The article itself was written up and signed in 2009 as an addition to the treaty, which was signed in 2007.
The U.K. has until March 29th, unless they agree on an extension, to finish negotiating a Withdraw Agreement. Which will outline how the U.K. is going to leave, and how long the transition period will take.
February 26th, 2019
With the March deadline creeping up, tension is at an all time high. Theresa May is still trying to come to an agreement with the European Union, and she has no intention of delaying Britain’s exit from the EU. As she addressed the House of Commons, she talked about the different ways that the UK and the EU are negotiating the role of healthcare, insurance, and jobs especially. That seems to be one of the reasons they have been unable to come to a decision.
In May’s address, she offers 3 Meaningful Votes for Parliament to approve the outcomes of the negotiations with the European Union, each one taken the day after the next, in case the initial ones fail. Starting March 12, they will begin voting. If the first two fail, the third one will be to decide whether or not to seek the extension past the two year period.
March 12, 2019
Leading up to the vote, speculations of the outcome are flying through the air like volleys of arrows. Will the vote end up like the last one May brought to the Parliament, with less than 30% of the votes in her favor. Or, has she revised enough of the Withdrawal Agreement to make it through the round.
At the end of the night, May comes out with another defeat by the commons; she has lost the vote 391-242.
Merely hours before, a group of her own, the Tory MPs (the Conservative party), spoke out against the proposal because it allegedly had “undiscussed content” about the Irish backstop, which is the border between Northern and Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland, or the Republic of Ireland, was originally apart of the UK with the rest of its country.
In 1921, two years after they revolted and claimed independence, the Government of Ireland act was passed by British Parliament, saying that they recognized the Republic of Ireland as an independent country from the UK. The border between them has always been a controversial topic.
First Hand Experience
Maureen Staunton, a US and Irish dual citizen, lived in the Republic of Ireland during her early childhood. In an interview, she told about her life and about the relationship between Northern and Southern Ireland.
Interviewer: How long did you live in the Republic of Ireland?
Staunton: We moved there when I was 5, and stayed for 2 years. I went to Kindergarten and 1st grade there.
Interviewer: How do you feel you were influenced by the border and the constant warfare going on between the two halves?
Staunton: The closest border crossing was 2 hours away from my house, so any news I heard of was at the television at my grandmas house. All I knew was the English people fighting the Irish- The English people were in the north trying to stop us from retaking the 6 counties of Northern Ireland, to make Ireland the full 32 counties again.
Interviewer: Since you were 5 at the time, you couldn’t have fully understood what was going on. When did you realize the true extent of the situation?
Staunton: 5 years after I came back, I had social studies teacher who explained to me the nature of the conflict. I came home from school, feeling stupid, because I had lived there and hadn’t really known. But my parents had never really talked to us about it, and I had gone to school with Protestant kids while in Ireland, and they just went outside and played while we talked about religion. It didn’t dawn on me that their church was part of the conflict. Because they were. It was the Catholics in the south and the Protestants in the north, and the Catholics were trying to regain the rest of our nation and kick the Protestants out.
Interviewer: Did you have any family or friends in Northern Ireland? How was your relationship with them?
Staunton: No family, but my sister had a friend that graduated from a university in Northern Ireland, but could not get a job in the north because she was Catholic, so she came to the United States.
Interviewer: Did you ever visit Northern Ireland while you lived there?
Staunton: Not while living there, but as an adult, my family flew into the north when we went back to visit my grandparents in the south. We stayed at my sisters friends house. She was still working in the United States, but her parents were still residents, and they insisted that we stay the night with them instead the motel we had originally planned for.
Interviewer: Any other comments you would like to make on the topic?
Staunton: The first time we returned to Ireland after moving to the United States was really the first time I saw firsthand the results of the conflict between the north and south. People were dressed up in fatigue and carrying guns, and Bobby Sans, an Irish activist, his picture had fallen from where it was posted in the town square. The camouflaged people walked up and picked up his picture that had fallen and pinned it back up. Bobby Sans was currently imprisoned in the north, and he was leading a hunger strike for better conditions for all convicted Irish prisoners. He eventually died in the prison, though.
March 13, 2019
Trying to put last night’s events behind her, May comes out swinging with all she’s got. She has no intention of leaving the Union without a plan, but with her determination, I wouldn’t put it past her. If they keep on rejecting her plans, she may not have a choice.
At the end of the night, Theresa May loses yet another vote to the Tory MPs, but all is not lost. May can still push her way through the withdrawal without an agreed upon plan, but the problem is the vote which will be taking place tomorrow; If she makes it through, the UK will leave March 29th, as planned. But, if they choose to take the extension path, there is no telling how long the delay might be. It is this sense of unknown that is really worrying May and other Brexit supporters. Leading into tomorrow, Theresa May needs to pull out the big guns, because both her and Parliament are in the water, and one must sink to keep the other afloat.