Official divorce proceedings began on Wednesday, March 29 for Britain’s two-year withdrawal process from the European Union (EU). Britain voted in a referendum last June to leave the EU by invoking Article 50.
Article 50 is a plan for any country that wishes to divorce from the EU, and was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon, an agreement reached by all EU states which was passed into law in 2009. It gives both sides two years to reach agreement. According to the BBC, if everything goes according to plan and the UK and the 27 remaining EU member states agree to extend the deadline for talks, the UK will leave on March 29, 2019. Before Wednesday, Article 50 had never been invoked.
In her letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that a failure to reach a trade deal within the allotted two-year period could “weaken” Britain’s cooperation with the EU in the fight against terrorism.
However, in an interview with BBC’s Andrew Neil on BBC One, May said that she “would like to be able to maintain the degree of cooperation on these matters that we have currently.”
Harding Dean of International Programs Jeff Hopper said he sees Brexit in a worldwide context.
“I think that in almost all thinking and trends there is a pendulum that swings back and forth and right now, the pendulum is swinging toward nationalism and individuality,” Hopper said. “You see it in the U.S. under the current administration, you see it in Turkey to the point that it’s causing unrest . . . The most extreme example is Syria, where you have the government at war with several factions who are against the government. It’s in this world context that I see Brexit.”
Hopper said that in dividing itself from the EU, Britain is creating a unifying factor among its people. He also said that he thinks that Brexit is just a way of confirming what was already felt by the British population.
“Through the history of the EU, you could get in a car in Italy and drive through France and Spain and never have to show your passport to cross the border — you still had to show your passport to enter Great Britain, so there’s a sense that they were never fully a member in the sense that countries on the continent were,” Hopper said. “So the relationship has been weak and now they’re severing it. It’s a reveal of what people were thinking and feeling already.”
Among changes in international atmosphere, in trade and possibly in partnership regarding crime and terrorism, the pound is expected to decrease in value slightly. Harding senior Marie Pierre Lacoss, who has lived in England since 1998, says that she and others in her situation may have difficulty going back to live in England.
“I’m a quarter French, so before, I could get French citizenship through my mother and live in England,” Lacoss said. “Now, because of Brexit, my brothers and I are just planning to apply for British citizenship this summer which is just more of a hassle for us and people in similar situations.”
As far as Harding’s International Program in England is concerned, Hopper said that students have no reason to worry.
“I’m hoping and expecting the pound to drop in value and try to grab more students for the (Harding University England) program,” Hopper said. “I’m thinking it might still drop again and that would be the best time for students to get signed up.”