Reading: After the EU referendum. Brexit?
Intermediate to lower advanced level (B1-C1)
Well, it actually happened. The majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU. But what now?
In a word, no one knows. One reason for this is that the current government did not expect the people to reject the EU and apparently had no plans for this scenario. The new Prime Minister Theresa May says: ‘Brexit means Brexit.’ This suggests that the UK will leave the EU (it is currently still in) but does not tell us what its new relationship with the EU will be. The vote: 52% v 48% is hardly a strong rejection of the EU and if the referendum were rerun, the population could well vote to remain! A compromise solution might be for the UK to be like Norway: a member of the European Economic Area rather than the EU. However, this means that there would be free movement of people and it was this point that was at the centre of the UK referendum!
The PM has said she does not intend to trigger Article 50, which is what the Government would need to do to start the process of leaving the EU, until early 2017. Indeed, she could wait longer, a lot longer. It also depends on the support of Parliament and this is not guaranteed (the referendum is only advisory). Some people wonder whether May will wait until there are clear signs of an economic downturn and then claim that it is too irresponsible to leave the EU, and if she can negotiate a better deal within the EU, it might just be acceptable. It would also prevent nationalist politicians in Scotland demanding independence so that Scotland can remain in the EU.
In the end, Brexit may not mean Brexit!