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What do you think about Brexit?
What if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union? This debate has raged for years between the political parties and has had an impact on the 2015 general elections. On June 23rd, the citizens will express their opinions during the referendum. But if the Brexit passes, what about the Europeans living in Great-Britain? Should they also vote, as the British do? FranceInLondon gives you the occasion to tell us what you think about the Brexit and the positive or negative consequences it could have.
What is Brexit?
“Brexit” is the contraction of two words “British” and “exit”, chosen to underline the UK’s willingness to leave the European Union.
Brits have been talking about the UK leaving the E.U. for a great many years, and as a result, many politicians have integrated this as one of the main points of their programme in order to get as many votes as possible. Nigel Farage went as far as creating UKIP (The UK Independence Party). In 2013, David Cameron said he would renegotiate the conditions for the United Kingdom’s EU membership, if the Tories were re-elected. Thanks to this decision, the eurosceptic members of the party supported him and Cameron's party was re-elected in 2015.
The Prime Minister presented his demands to the European Council on 18th and 19th February in Brussels. For more than 30 hours, European leaders negotiated to define an anti-Brexit agreement, “while at the same time protecting fundamental European values” said EC president Donald Tusk. David Cameron claimed during his press conference that the EU is “not a perfect organisation (…) but turning our back on it is not a solution.” With his new arguments, he will try to convince the UK voters not to vote for Brexit. The EU gave the UK “special status”, which means the country can now hold back for 4 years paying benefits to European nationals working in the country.
Brexit: pros and cons
- Pro: by leaving the EU, immigration will be reduced, leaving more jobs for British and reducing benefit payments.
- Con: immigrants bring more money to the country via taxes than they actually cost with benefits. And most of them are students or young professionals, so they help the issue of Britain's aging population.
- Pro: the UK will still be a nuclear power and stay an active member of NATO and the United Nations, without having to accept EU laws.
- Con: the country may lose influence in international markets.
- Pro: the country will be able to keep the £8.5 billion a year contribution to the EU.
- Con: the pound suffers from doubts about Brexit. On 22nd February, it was down as much as 2,4% against the US dollar, its lowest level since 2009. Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts a major drop if Brexit is approved. Besides, the UK’s most important economic partner is the European Union. 50% of the country’s exports go to the EU. If Brexit is chosen, there will have to be negotiations to organise UK access to the single market, as Norway or Sweden have done before, or the country will have to follow the World Trade Organization’s rules to put custom tariffs on national products. But a case similar to the Norwegian scheme would mean the UK having to pay £31 billion a year to be able to trade with the EU, according to Open Europe thinktank.
How does it impact Europeans' life in the UK?
What will be the condition for the expats currently living in the UK who want to stay here? And how many of them will be able to stay? Should they apply for dual citizenship? There are many questions the governments will have to answer to if the referendum is in favour of Brexit. Experts say negotiations will last at least two years, during which time European citizens in the UK will live with uncertainty. The 2 million British people living in the other countries of the EU will also worry about their future, as the national and international investors, who will have to adapt to the new market and prices. For their part, the Scottish will probably ask for a new referendum to become independent and be a part of the EU.
A petition to be able to vote
A petition has been circulating on the internet for months, asking David Cameron to let the Europeans living in the UK vote for the referendum, so that those who have lived here for years are not pushed out of the country. The petition’s creator is Lucie Hinton, a French woman who has lived in the UK for 15 years. “I wish I could vote because the result of the referendum will have a significant impact on my life and the many Europeans who have made the UK their country” she says. “I am afraid Brexit will restrict our freedom of movement, it could be complicated to leave the country, and our living conditions will get precarious whereas we have lived here for decades. We will maybe even need a visa to work here?” Lucie has collected about 4000 signatures for her petition.
How about you, will you sign this petition? Tell us what you think by answering the 6 questions below: