After three and a half years of debates, delays, and demands, the United Kingdom will finally leave the European Union tomorrow, Jan. 31, 2020. The final arrangements are messy, but also guarantee success at a fair price for Brexiters.
Nearly half of those who voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016, said they did so because they believe that decisions made for the UK should be made within the UK. Others voted to take back control of their immigration laws.
Gaining the freedom of self-determination comes at a cost — for the United States, that cost was the Revolutionary War. Though the UK likely will not have to shed blood for its independence from the EU, it will have to fork out billions to the bloc. It also risks its relations with Northern Ireland and Scotland.
As Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage said, maintaining national sovereignty and rallying against globalist governments are critical to preserve freedom, as demonstrated by the World Wars. “Social democratic politics that have overtaken Britain, Europe, and America were happy to give that all away,” he told Inside Sources in 2017. Farage is right on both points.
This version of Brexit is certainly not a clean divorce from the globalist, unrepresentative EU that many Leavers dreamt of and voted for in 2016. But then again, no divorce is.
A strongly-Remain parliament stalled the process of Brexit for the past 42 months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an election last December, which brought a sweeping victory for his Conservative Party. The election was historic, booting many Remainers from office and paving the way for a pro-Brexit Parliament to pass a bill.
Johnson’s Withdraw Agreement Bill passed through Parliament unamended on Friday, Jan. 22. Then Brussels passed the terms of the Brexit deal by a massive margin, 621 to 49, on Wednesday. Britain will be officially out of the EU on Friday.
For the past 47 years, bureaucrats in Brussels have had the final say on UK’s labor, immigration, and environmental policies. But the EU has shown countless times its inability to manage much of anything — recall its mismanagement of the refugee crisis from 2015 – 16.
Now, the UK will have the right to determine its own immigration, environmental, trade, and labor policies, as any nation should have the right to do.
The UK will abide by the European Union’s regulations until the end of 2020. This transition period is necessary for the UK to form trade deals with the EU and other nations. Johnson’s deal does not allow for another extension of the transition period beyond December 2020, meaning Britain will not be entangled in the EU’s policies for much longer than it needs to negotiate deals. And the UK won’t slip back into the bloc.
But leaving comes at a cost. The UK will have to pay its yearly dues to the EU for 2019 and 2020, costing more than $22 billion combined — more than half of the $43 billion financial settlement to the bloc.
It’s also important to note how the deal impacts relations between regions within the UK. Disputes between Britain and Northern Ireland, called “the Troubles,” tore apart communities along the border as recently as two decades ago — well within the lifetime of many Gen‑Z’ers. The EU brought peace between the Nationalists, individuals who want to unite Ireland and typically identify as Irish Catholics, and the Loyalists, those who identify as British Protestants. Britain and Ireland’s membership in the EU assured free trade across the border of Britain and Northern Ireland.
Free trade and free movement across this border must be the first thing Britain addresses to protect the region from another bloody conflict.
And Trident, the UK’s main nuclear deterrent system — which includes four submarines as well as missiles and warheads — are located at a naval base in Scotland. Further, Scotland’s 2014 referendum on whether or not to remain in the UK was predicated on the UK’s membership within the EU. Many predict a second Scottish referendum to create an independent Scotland that would potentially rejoin the EU.
Whether or not the EU’s laws were beneficial to the UK, it’s the duty of a body of people to decide these regulations for themselves — not legislators from far-off countries, with no knowledge or connection to the British people.
The Brexit Johnson delivered isn’t entirely what Leavers wanted, or what it could have been with a better deal. Britain is learning for themselves that achieving national sovereignty — freedom for one’s country and its people — isn’t free. But it is worth it.
Alex Nester is a senior studying economics. She is the opinions editor for The Collegian.