Britain Moves Closer to Leaving European Union

Joel Neuschwander, Reporter

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Soon enough, Britain might be going solo.

This is a Friday, May 22, 2015 file photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron, center, as he stands with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, and European Council President Donald Tusk during arrivals at the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga. Cameron announced Friday June 24 2016 that he plans to resign following the result of Britain’s EU referendum. Cameron said he would stay on for as long as was necessary for stability’s sake, but that he could not be the one to lead Britain out of Europe. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) has been a part of the European Union since 1973, but if a recent government ruling holds true, a divorce may be in store.

On February 1st, members of the United Kingdom parliament voted in favor of a bill that would give British Prime Minister Theresa May the power to put into effect Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 says “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

According to CNN, the bill must still be approved by the House of Lords before it can become a law. If Article 50 is invoked, the UK will have two years to negotiate a separation agreement with the other 27 members of the European Union. May has stated that she intends to invoke Article 50 by the end of March.

Article 50 has never been put into use, but as the national movement known as “Brexit” has gained traction over the past several years, it has come to the nation’s forefront. This process started when the UK held a nationwide vote on whether to stay or leave the EU on June 23. Both England and Wales voted in favor of leaving, while Scotland and Northern Ireland were in favor of staying in the EU. In total, 51.9% of UK residents voted to leave and 48.1% wanted to remain.

David Cameron, British Prime Minister at the time of the referendum, was against leaving the EU. After losing the vote last summer, he resigned. May took over, and, despite also being against leaving, said she would “respect the will of the people”.

While its impact may seemed limited in scope, Britain’s likely exit of the EU could have an impact on the US economy. In fact, CNN’s Doug Criss believes it may have a negative impact. “The UK is the world’s fifth-largest economy and one of the United States’ largest trading partners, so if it catches a cold, we may get a little sick, too.” he said. The British pound dropped to a 30-year low after the UK voted to leave the EU, and as a result, Wall Street dropped 500 points immediately after.

Despite unfavorable repercussions for the British economy, some in the US may benefit. Due to the weakening of the British pound, the US dollar will be stronger in comparison. Thus, a vacation to the United Kingdom will cost a lot less than it previously did. In addition, Brexit may pose a threat to both economies and membership within the EU.

A demonstrator wrapped in the EU flag takes part in a protest opposing Britain’s exit from the European Union in Parliament Square following the EU referendum result, London, Saturday, June 25, 2016. Britain voted to leave the European Union after a bitterly divisive referendum campaign. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

The UK’s referendum to leave the EU may lead other countries to follow in their footsteps. Rick Noark of the Washington Post said “Predictions that the E.U. could break apart might be a bit far-fetched, but there certainly are other countries where demands for similar referendums could gain momentum.” Noark listed Sweden, Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands, Hungary, and France as possible detractors.

Regardless of what happens to the rest of the EU, Brexit has sent shockwaves throughout Europe. Britain will become the first full member state to leave the EU, and the citizens of the 27 remaining member states face an uncertain future.