Will the UK’s departure from the bloc finally force the EU to change?
Brexit. A word that won’t be going away for a while. Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron took risks during his time in office. He gambled on Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum and won. That said, his hands were tied somewhat because denying the Scottish people their say would have been seen as undemocratic. The EU in/out referendum was different. On the one hand he needed to appease the Eurosceptic side of his Conservative Party because the Europe issue had dragged on the generations. He kicked the can down the road as much as he could, but when the Conservatives won a surprise outright majority at the 2015 general election, he was left with little choice but to go along with his pledge of renegotiating the UK’s relationship with the EU before going to the country. It backfired and he again had little choice but to resign shortly afterwards.
Theresa May, Cameron’s successor, invoked Article 50 last month and, in doing so, has triggered a two-year exit process, which will bring about very complex negotiations. Disentangling a 40+ year relationship can’t be done overnight, hence the two-year timetable and things have already got off to a rocky start.
Given the closeness of the referendum result, one has to wonder whether it may have swung the other way had Cameron’s renegotiation plan been different. The anti-EU sentiment has grown over the years for many reasons, but the main reason is the ever-increasing integration between member states and constant meddling from Brussels. While many had their own reasons for voting to leave, the simplest example to give is that the UK did not like British judges being overruled by an unelected bureaucrat in Brussels. A United States of Europe is not what the vast majority of Europeans want, but that is the way it is going. The UK leaving is a blow to the EU. The EU will no doubt play hardball with the UK during the ‘divorce’ process because they will have to make it unappealing for other states to follow the UK out. Is there a chance things will change though? Will they listen to the growing disenchantment of the path the EU is taking? Not if Mssrs Juncker and Tusk, two more unelected leaders, have their way.