A year ago, 52 per cent of voters chose for Britain to leave the European Union (the “stay” vote was 48 per cent). Although the “leave” outcome was a surprise to the general populous (and press), the outcome was less surprising to those who had analysed the UK/EU relationship, noting that a strong anti-EU sentiment had been building for some time.
Now, one year one, we look at what impact the decision of Brexit has had on the UK and the challenges that must be overcome.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been scrambling to form a coalition government with the DUP, after the Conservatives failed to gain a majority in the most recent election.
Dr Frank Mols is a professor at University of Queensland’s School of Political Science and International Studies. He says that the main challenge for Britain is how to regain access to the EU Single Market. “The irony and tragedy of Brexit is that Britain will have thrown out a pretty good deal (one that includes access while opting out of key aspects of EU integration) only to replace it with one that has far less favourable conditions.”
Prime Minister May has called for a deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement with the EU. Other analysts have argued for the UK to consider aligning some of its regulations including those for broadcasting and finance, in exchange for market access.
After the shock Brexit vote, the value of the pound dropped to its lowest level in more than 30 years.
One year on, financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown have said that clear winners and losers have emerged. Blue chip companies with a large proportion of foreign earnings are among the biggest winners, while twelve months on, the pound still remains weak.
A weaker currency has affected spending decisions, with local holidaymakers having less expendable income, while also putting pressure on consumer finances by pushing up inflation to a four-year high of 2.9%
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) – the main representative body for workers – in the UK has been critical of the process post-Brexit, saying that it has been a failure for working people.
“We have spent the last year fighting for the best Brexit deal for working people – one that protects their jobs and their rights at work,” said the TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady. “A good Brexit deal for working people means tariff-free and barrier-free trade with Europe,” she said. “That deal must protect all current rights and make sure that hardworking Brits do not miss out on new protections enjoyed by EU workers in the future.”
Since Brexit, there have been several terrorist attacks on UK soil, including the Westminster attack on March 22, the Manchester Arena bombing on May 22, the London Bridge attack on June 3, and the more recent Finsbury Mosque attack on 19 June.
New anti-terror laws were announced by the Parliament in the wake of the London Bridge attack, while Prime Minister May has condemned the rise of extremism and stated that her government will work to fight against these sorts of attacks in the future.