Price of Brexit will be high for Brits – maybe too high
Election results could strengthen the May government’s hand to negotiate a soft landing.
thereare quite a number of issues that trouble the average British voter, such as the National Health Service and the housing shortage, but it is evident that there’s a single matter that’s going to dominate the elections of 8 June: Britain’s exit from the EU.
The elections are also seen as a mandate given to Prime Minister Theresa May’s new government to handle this extremely difficult question. Recently, the government had a majority of just 17 members in parliament, while most MPs were in fact pro-EU. This means that a mere shift of 2.6% among the 650 members could lead to the carpet being repeatedly pulled from under the feet of May’s government in contentious matters.
The Liberal Democratic Party is the strongest supporter of continued membership of the EU, but had only eight seats in the previous parliament. However, it’s expected to fare better in the coming elections, while the UK Independence Party (Ukip), which is strongly opposed to continued membership, could underperform.
Polls indicate that the Conservative Party could end up with a majority of 100 seats or more, mainly at the expense of an ineffective Labour Party, which could strengthen May’s hand to push through unpopular decisions. And indications are that many such decisions are going to be required, ranging from a crisis involving Scotland and Northern Ireland, who wish to remain in the EU, and jobs that will be lost.
That other major members of the EU are not at all happy about Brexit, is among other things apparent from a remark made by Emmanuel Macron, the designated French president, that he is going to be tough on Britain in the Brexit negotiations. He wants to ensure that the rest of the EU is preserved as a unit and that the message is sent out that a member cannot simply withdraw without there being consequences.
“You do not get a passport and access to a single market should you decide to leave,” he said, adding that the British cannot have the best of both worlds. That will be too big an incentive for others to leave and kill the European idea, which is based on shared responsibilities.
The German President Frank-Walter Prime minister of the United Kingdom Steinmeier indicated that Germany regarded it as a priority to preserve the remaining 27 EU members. In the meantime, the president of the EU parliament has taken steps to replace British parliamentarians who serve in key positions in EU committees.
A study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, which advises the Bundestag and the Federal government, reckons that the positions of about 3m British depend on exports to the other 27 EU members.
The study states that the EU will be managed more easily and effectively without the British. Britain has been referred to as an “awkward” member.
Prime Minister May is one of the majority of parliamentarians who were opposed to Brexit, although she was never vociferous in her stance. It is, however, evident that the British establishment is going to fight hard to bring about a soft Brexit landing, which means that as many ties as possible are (hopefully) going to be maintained with the EU.
It’s especially the business community that’s worried. British companies have free access to the world’s largest trading bloc with a population of 508m and the second-biggest GDP, which is estimated at $16.5tr or 22% of the world total. The US’s GDP is the largest at about $18tr, or 24% of the world total, while the British total is $2.8tr.
Britain’s exit from the EU, which will consist of 27 countries after Brexit, will be a setback for the EU. Britain has a population of 65m and represents the second-biggest economy in the EU after Germany, with 80.6m inhabitants. The British GDP of $2.8tr is second-biggest after Germany’s, which stands at $3.4tr.
Apart from the EU losing 12.8% of its population, Britain is also important because it’s the strongest member militarily in the EU and is a nuclear power, like France. Its contribution to the EU’s budget is about $16.8bn.
It’s becoming increasingly evident that the price Britain will pay will be very high, maybe too high. This is why there are influential people in the country who are talking of a “soft” Brexit, or even its cancellation, which is referred to as Brexverse or Brexreverse.
Emmanuel Macron Designated French president