Brexit: The Downfall of the European Union – Liberal Article
The Brexit vote is still heavily debated today, even four years later. Although I wanted to remain in the EU (despite being too young to vote), I have come to terms with the outcome. The discussions have been dragged out over a significant period of time, potentially damaging the strength of the UK’s position. However, this article is not to discuss the Brexit vote itself, but rather its impact on the rest of Europe and the EU.
Since Brexit, we have seen large swings in the political landscape in Europe. Many right-wing parties have risen to significant power; the AfD in Germany, the SD gaining seats in Sweden and Marine Le Pen’s presidential race against Macron; these are just some examples of right-wing groups gaining movement.
The question is, why have we seen these parties gain popularity? Although there are a number of factors, I believe that the Brexit vote played a large role. Heavily polarised parties existed before but were often cast aside. It was the middle of the road parties that would do well. But Brexit has demonstrated that radical change in policies is possible, even in stable democracies. It has opened up the gateway for usually undermined parties to have a voice.
In terms of pure democracy, this is good. We are seeing more political views than ever. But in terms of creating a better society, I think not. Heavily polarised parties having significant power can hinder beneficial (for some) policies being implemented.
Not only has Brexit brought up discussions of leaving the EU, but it has led to other votes being held. In Switzerland for example, the public voted on the 27 September on whether to end the agreement with the EU on the free movement of people. Although this is not a new topic, as the leading political party (SVP) is known for their racial and nationalist perspective, it could have created significant damage to the European economy and freedom. Even though the proposal was rejected, the referendum in itself is troubling. Switzerland, a small country but a large player in the EU economy, could be the new Brexit.
Due to Covid-19, we have seen borders shut around the world, what if they stay closed? Nationalist parties can use the virus to their advantage, to bring forward votes for more realist and nationalist policies.
For me, this is a truly worrying time. Being a British migrant living in Switzerland, the Brexit and ‘Swexit’ votes in Europe have made it difficult to remain here. How long before migrants like me are kicked out of our countries? I am worried that the world, in particular the EU, is heading towards a dark and lonely place, where protection against foreigners is valued higher than economic growth and cooperation.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Charlie Papamichael
Point of Information
The impacts of Brexit on the EU are just as important to understand as the impacts on the UK – A Conservative Response
Charlie’s article is enlightening in shifting the focus of Brexit away from the impacts on the UK to impacts on the EU. Despite the 27 other member states, the UK was always a strong player in the EU. Not just economically, but the UK’s position as a former global superpower granted leverage in international negotiations, particularly with groups such as NATO.
The recent rise of the far-right across the EU is deeply concerning and the link Charlie makes between this and Brexit is strong. The day of the referendum was a stark shock not just for David Cameron and Remainers, but also the pollsters who completely misread the opinion of voters in the run-up. Just 16 out of 168 polls carried out from September 2015 to June 2016 predicted that the Leave vote would secure a majority. This surprising result inevitably created an opening for other unlikely candidates across the EU to pursue their political agendas.
One element of the article I disagree with is the notion that Brexit will inspire other countries to depart. For me, the extremely long and tedious process of the Brexit negotiations is enough to put anyone off. A multitude of empty promises were promised to the British public by the Leave campaign during the lead up to the referendum; almost all of which have gone unfulfilled or were impossible.
This article is important and informative and offers a refreshing take on Brexit.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Emer Kelly
Europe will be fine, it’s the UK we should worry about – A Labour Response
I can sympathise with Charlie’s fears about Europe’s future. However, I think that some of these concerns may be slightly misplaced. I don’t think that Brexit has been quite as consequential as Charlie suggests. Across other EU member states, the Eurozone crisis and the migrant crisis were significantly more influential in the rise of Eurosceptic parties.
In fact, Ireland was the only country in which Brexit was considered to have had a “high” impact. Given Ireland’s proximity to the UK, this is hardly surprising either. It is fair to say that Eurosceptic parties have been on the rise in Europe. However, Brexit’s role in this is debatable. Considering how salient the Eurozone and migrant crises were in Europe, Brexit hardly compares.
Quite honestly, Brexit may have actually strengthened EU support across Europe. Since 2016, support for EU membership has increased in every single member state. This suggests that, if anything, Brexit may have actually fixed the downfall of the European Union. At the very least, it’s scared other member states off of the idea of leaving because of how badly it’s gone over the last 4 years.
I will agree with Charlie that Brexit has brought Euroscepticism into the spotlight across the rest of Europe. But quite often this has resulted in convincing pro-European sentiment. In Switzerland, 62% of people voted to retain free movement in their recent referendum. Both North Macedonia and Albania are also set to join the EU, the former of which had 95% support in the referendum over accession.
My point is that the EU is far from falling apart and, seemingly, it’s only getting stronger. I can understand Charlie’s fears but, overall, I think that if anyone is heading towards a dark and lonely place it is most likely the UK rather than the rest of Europe. The EU will continue to grow whilst we enter a new period of isolation on the side-lines.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Jack Rolfe
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.
I am currently in my second year at the University of Exeter studying Politics. It was as a young child going to visit my family in Northern Ireland that I unknowingly had my first interactions with politics.
I am a third-year student at the University of Exeter, studying BSc Politics and International Relations. After graduating in the summer of 2020, I will be completing an MSc in Applied Social Data Science. I will also be the Treasurer of the Politics Society, as well as of the Uni Boob Team for the 2020/2021 academic year.