Last year in what was seen as a major political development, Britain left the European Union. The term ''Brexit'' became very popular during this time. The decision changed the present and future of Britain forever.
The interesting series of events after Brexit started with the resignation of David Cameron. He stepped down as the Prime Minister of UK after losing the referendum. Theresa May took over as the Prime Minister.
A referendum was held in 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union.The result was announced where leave won by 51.9% and Britain had to leave the European Union . The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. (www.bbc.com)
History of European Union
The European Union which is an economic and political partnership involves 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas which includes environment, transport and consumer rights. (www.bbc.com)
Treaty of Lisbon was an agreement signed up to by all EU states which became law in 2009. Article 50 was created as a part of the Lisbon Treaty and is a plan for anyone who wishes to exit the EU. Before this treaty, there was no formal mechanism for a country to leave the EU. (www.bbc.com)
The treaty spells out that any EU member state that decides to quit the EU, must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU. It also states that there are two years to reach an argument and also that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure. (www.bbc.com)
Article 50 was hence invoked by Britain and now UK is all set to exit the European Union on 29th March 2019.
From assumptions to reality
According to various economic analysts, Britain's exit from the European Union meant the doom of UK's economy. But interestingly complete opposite of what was predicted happened.
UK's economy grew in 2016, and came second only to Germany among the world's G7 leading industrialised nations. Although UK's growth has slowed so far in 2017, but the economy is still expanding. Inflation has risen since, but unemployment has continued to fall. (www.bbc.com)
Recently, to explain this observers pointed to the nimble response of the Bank of England (BoE), which cut interest rates to prevent any softening of demand. They pointed to the big post-referendum depreciation of the pound, which promised to make British exports more competitive and offset any problems with the transition to a new trade regime. They suggested that a UK freed of burdensome EU regulations could offer a more business-friendly environment and lower corporate tax rates, and thus become a magnet for foreign investment. (www.thegaurdian.com)
To add to this, economists also pointed out that British consumer confidence is down, and spending in the second quarter of this year has fell to its lowest level in four years. New car sales have been down for four consecutive months. The BoE forecasts a whopping 20% decline in business investment in the coming years. (www.thegaurdian.com)
What's going on now?
Right now many are questioning as to why doesn't UK cut all ties in March but the answer to this is that UK's Prime Minister Theresa May doesn't want to finish such a long association with all the countries so abruptly. The repercussions of ending of cross border trade or travel overnight also have to be kept in mind before making any decision in haste.
Negotiations are going on between UK and the European Union. Among the various points that have to be discussed, there are three most important ones.
First, about the rights EU citizens already have in the UK and the UK citizens living in the rest of the EU - will have after Brexit. Second, agreeing to a figure for the amount of money the UK has to pay the rest of the EU "to settle its accounts", when it leaves. And third, working out what will happen on the border between Northern Ireland, when it is outside the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU. (www.bbc.com)
It is important to note that Theresa May was against Brexit during the referendum campaign but is now in favour of it because she says it is what the British people want. She triggered the two year process of leaving the EU on 29 March. She hazard set out her negotiating goals in a letter to the EU council President Donald Tusk. (www.bbc.com)
Theresa May also surprised everyone after the 2017 Easter Bank Holiday by calling an election for 8 June saying she wanted to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with European leaders. She feared Labour, the SNP and other opposition parties - and members of the House of Lords - would try to block and frustrate her strategy. However Mrs May did not increase her party's seats in the Commons and she ended up weakened, having to rely on support from the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party. (www.bbc.com)
Currently, the UK and EU negotiating teams are scheduled to meet face-to-face for one week each month.