Theresa May’s Leadership is Challenged, But The Motion For Brexit Continues
By: Olivia Frasca
An organization of 28 states and 513 million people, the European Union (EU) is a major force in setting economic standards throughout Western Europe. The EU was initially created in the 1950s to avoid conflict after World War II. Since then, it has grown into a massive single market that allows for the free movement of goods and people between member states.
One of those member states, the United Kingdom, is set to leave the EU next year. That is, if all goes to plan.
On December 11th, the UK Parliament was scheduled to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s departure plan. May delayed the vote and traveled to Brussels to make amendments to her draft.
The future of May’s leadership came to a halt on Wednesday morning, when members of the Conservative Party called for a vote of no confidence.
The motion meant that 15% of the majority party in the House of Commons lost faith in their leader. 48 members of May’s Conservative Party called her leadership into question.
The vote occurred later that night among Conservative MPs. With 200 Conservatives voting for her and 117 voting against her, reported by Aljazeera, May will remain Prime Minister.
The parliament vote on May’s draft is expected to occur before January 21st.
In June of 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether to stay or leave the EU. 52% of voters chose to leave.
Member states may leave the EU through a process described in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Prime Minister May began this withdrawal process on March 29th, 2017.
The UK will leave the EU on March 29th, 2019. Within this two-year period, Britain and the union have created a plan of action. This includes the country’s withdrawal agreement and future relationship with the EU.
Britain’s departure, notably referred to as Brexit, was years in the making. Those that want to leave believe the EU is dysfunctional and fails to address growing unemployment and immigration. There is also widespread distrust in multinational organizations, especially those created after World War II, according to Forbes.
Opponents of Brexit are concerned about maintaining amicable relations with major states of the EU and are unsure about the country’s future economy after March. After the 2016 referendum, real wages in the UK have grown less than the rate of inflation.
Major concerns as Brexit approaches are Ireland and Northern Ireland relations. May’s plan sets out a “backstop” to prevent a harsh border between Ireland and Northern Ireland during the post-Brexit period, noted in Aljazeera.
If the House of Commons agrees with May’s draft, it will be introduced to all of parliament as a bill. It must be signed into law by March 29th.
May has a slim majority in the House of Commons- if the plan is not approved, members of parliament must agree on another way to proceed. This may hinder the withdrawal in March, and leave the future of UK-EU relations in limbo.
Lawmakers may disagree on the plan altogether and call for another referendum just months before departure.
The official UK Parliament website details Britain’s contribution to the EU budget. In 2017, Britain contributed around €13 billion, about 17% of the EU budget. The country received €4.1 billion back from the union, making a net contribution of €8.9 billion.
Supporters of Brexit believe the EU no longer serves a valuable purpose for Britain. The country contributes a significant percentage to the budget, but does not get much in return.
The UK will not have to contribute to the EU as much as it did before, or depend on approval from the EU council if Brexit prevails. Funding can go towards other development in the country instead.
Brexit is a chance for Britain to reach its full economic potential and become a leader in modern trade, free from the rules of the EU.
If Britain ever wants to rejoin the European Union, it must go through the same process that all prospective states go through. For now, it is on track to being the first member state to depart, and Prime Minister May will surely face criticism along the way.