The United Kingdom (UK) flag has been taken down from European Union (EU) buildings. The EU gave a final nod to Brexit — Britain left the EU on Jan. 31.
The process of Brexit started on June 23, 2016, at the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, where the majority voted to leave the EU. On March 29, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May signed the letter that formally began the UK’s departure from the EU.
The debates continued, and at a meeting of the European Council in April 2019, the UK and EU agreed to extend the deadline of Brexit until Oct. 31, 2019. After Boris Johnson officially became Britain’s new Prime Minister, the Brexit process got delayed.
British Parliament voted for more time to examine the agreement on Oct. 19, 2019. On Oct. 28, 2019, EU officials agreed on a final Brexit date — Jan. 31, 2020.
As of February 2020, there are 8 students from the UK attending Harding.
Graduate student Mason Banger from Southampton, UK, said he believes Brexit has been coming for a long time and the people of England were tired of their commitment to the EU.
“The European Union had been sucking money out of our country, and we were having to abide by their rules for all our trade and immigration,” Banger said.
Banger said he thinks Britain is overpopulated, and it was time to take back some control and introduce a harsher immigration policy.
“I don’t see relationships being broken with European countries, because we will still be allies and support NATO most likely,” Banger said.
Dr. Kevin Klein, professor of history and political science, said he believes supporters of Brexit contend the regulatory environment created in Brussels had placed Great Britain at a disadvantage.
Klein said that fight went back to the 1970s under a much weaker European economic accord that was generally opposed by the Labour Party, but it was the 1993 EU that produced the real divide.
“By 2016, the pressure inside the Conservative Party, whose leadership was pro-EU but whose traditional voting strongholds were increasingly sceptics, reached the point where they called for a referendum on the issue,” Klein said. “Then the real crisis began: with very few in the leadership of any of the major parties in favor of leaving the EU, and a popular vote demanding such, the very meaning of British democracy was now center stage. What followed was not pretty.”
Klein said democracy is not the rule of the wise, but the rule of the people.
“Democracy’s great historic virtue is that it is less dangerous to accept that people have the right to be wrong, to have a governing elite pressure to always know better what is right,” said Klein.
The final act of Brexit was not surprising to Klein.
“Finally given the opportunity to vote again on the issue of Brexit through another round of parliamentary elections, with a full-throated supporter of Brexit [Boris Johnson] representing the Conservatives, the pro-Brexit will of British voters dominated the returns,” Klein said.
In Klein’s opinion, the historical importance of Brexit is for Britain to determine.
“But Britain leaving will weaken the EU and inspire other sceptic movements in other countries,” Klein said.
Sophomore Josh Strongman from Bournemouth said Brexit is beneficial for his family.
“Brexit will mainly affect me personally by benefiting my family businesses — as both of my parents are business owners — and negatively affect my ability to travel,” Strongman said.
Freshman Rachel McCrae, a student from the UK, did not believe Brexit would happen, as nothing had happened for so long.
“I was undecided when we voted,” McCrae said. “I would probably have voted to stay if I had to vote, as I believe that voting to leave was taking a step into the unknown.”