On June 23, it became clear t: A majority of the British population wants to withdraw Britain from the EU. The result of the referendum came as a surprise to many – both in and outside the UK. Although opinion polls in the weeks before the vote showed a steady flow between those who wanted to remain in the union (” Remain “) and those who wanted to leave it (” Leave “), most assumed that the safe and known alternative – continued membership – would go victorious in the end. That was not the case.
- Why was it Brexit?
- What have been the consequences so far – for the UK and for the outside world?
- What connection will the United Kingdom have to the EU in the future?
- How does the British EU withdrawal affect Norway?
The United Kingdom has not yet started the formal withdrawal process , but Prime Minister Theresa May has assured that “Brexit means Brexit” and that the process will not drag on unnecessarily long. Instead, the UK will work to put in place the best possible agreement with the EU listed on MEDICINELEARNERS.
2: Unexpected outcome of the referendum
The British referendum result had immediate consequences in British politics. Just hours after the outcome was announced, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation . Cameron, who had fought for continued British EU membership in the election campaign, had to admit that the people had chosen differently. “The country needs fresh leadership to take it in that direction,” he stated. A few weeks later, after a brief leadership struggle in the Conservative Party, Theresa May was elected as the new party leader and prime minister.
May, who came from the post of interior minister in Cameron’s government, has a party political background reminiscent of Cameron’s. Like him, she campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, but kept a relatively modest profile with few public appearances. When the outcome was a fact, she therefore emerged as the most obvious compromise candidate – an experienced and sane politician who could gather a divided population, and solve Britain through the withdrawal process.
Since taking over as prime minister, May has been clear that “Brexit means Brexit”. In other words, there is no “attack button”, no way to stay in the EU and no plans for more referendums than the one that was just held. “My goal is to put in place the best deal possible,” May has stated. She has also made a point of giving “Brexit profiles” prominent cabinet posts in her new government.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson has been taken into the heat and appointed new Secretary of State. Another high-profile EU opponent, Liam Fox, has been given the job of new trade minister. Both items will be important in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU. In addition, May has chosen to create a completely new post as “Brexit Minister”. Tasks assigned to party veteran David Davis, also well known for his EU skepticism. When Davis gave his first speech in the British Parliament on 5 September this year, he announced that the government would seek to reach “national agreement” in the withdrawal process, and “take the time to help get things right”.
3: Why was it Brexit?
51.9 percent of those who voted in the referendum voted to leave the EU. 72.2 percent of those eligible to vote participated in the election. Why would the majority want out? The answer seems to be complex and varies from voter to voter: An obvious explanatory factor is about features of today’s British society and population :
The differences were significant between how the four main regions in the UK voted:
- Leave: In both England and Wales, there was a majority in favor of leaving the EU, 53.4 per cent and 52.5 per cent, respectively.
- Remain: In both Scotland and Northern Ireland, however, there was a clear majority to stay in the Union. In Scotland, as many as 62 per cent wanted the UK to remain a member of the EU. In Northern Ireland, 55.8 per cent wanted the same. It is also interesting to note that in the capital London, 59.9 per cent voted to stay in the EU.
The figures reflect that the United Kingdom is a diverse country, with important regional variations in attitudes towards EU membership.
Surveys also show that age and social class were of great importance for how the population voted. Older voters and voters who stated that they were skilled workers, working class or unemployed voted to a far greater extent to leave the EU.
Furthermore, there was a clear link between party affiliation and attitudes towards EU membership. An overwhelming majority of British Independence Party (UKIP) voters voted to leave the EU (96 percent). A clear majority of Conservative voters also voted “Leave” (58 percent), while Labor voters voted “Remain” to a greater extent (63 percent). The Liberal Democrats’ voters were clearly most positive about continued British EU membership – 70 percent of them say they voted “Remain”.