When will the Briton leave the EU?

Brexit: Great Britain leaves the EU

In June 2016, the citizens of Great Britain decided to leave the EU as the first country ever. How could this happen? And what is in store for the British with Brexit? An overview

Friday, June 24, 2016, around 7 a.m .: The ballot papers were counted all night long. The day before, the residents of Great Britain were allowed to decide whether their country should stay in the European Union or leave it. Now, while most Brits are sipping their breakfast tea, there is certainty: with a tiny majority of 51.9 percent they have decided in favor of Brexit (the word is a combination of the English terms "British": British and "exit") : Exit). This is the first time a country has left the EU. Many people ask themselves this morning: How did it come to this?

The long road to Brexit

Great Britain - that is a complicated matter in itself. Because the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as it is strictly speaking, includes four countries: Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You and the EU have had a complicated relationship from the start.

After the end of the Second World War, it was the British statesman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill who proposed the establishment of the "United States of Europe". He leaves it open whether his own country is even included. Because the people there have always been proud of their independence, their uniqueness. The British are very afraid of going under in an alliance of states.

When the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the EU, was founded in 1957, they weren't there. They want to go their own way. The only thing is that while the economy weakens in them in the 1960s, it flourishes in the countries of the EEC. The new confederation makes it easier for its countries to do business with one another. Great Britain now also wants to join the EEC; In 1973 the country was accepted after tough negotiations. Just got in, but many want to get out again.

That bothers a lot of Britons about the EU

More and more Brits think that the alliance has too much power and interferes in everything: A huge dispute breaks out when the British milkmen want to ban European hygiene regulations. Every morning they distribute milk bottles in the streets ringing and clinking - an age-old tradition. In the end there is a special regulation for Great Britain, like so many times.

Unlike most EU countries, the British still carry out strict passport controls upon entry: They are uncomfortable with letting strangers live and work in their country - “only” because they have a European passport.

The British have not joined the euro either. And they negotiated special conditions for the payments that all EU members have to make. Nevertheless, they were never satisfied, EU opponents always etched: If we didn't have to support so many poorer EU members with our money, our country would be in a better position. With such objections, they managed to get a majority of the people on their side last year.

Brexit election: the old outvote the young

The television graphics that build up on the morning after the Brexit vote in June 2016 show a divided country: while the big cities and all of Scotland are colored blue (they voted “stay”), the rural areas in England and Wales are glowing red ("Walk").

A closer look also shows that the majority of people over 50 welcomes leaving the EU, while the younger ones are against it. Because it is they, above all, who have to live with the consequences of such a change.

The consequences of Brexit for Great Britain

No one can say at the moment how Brexit will change people's lives in Great Britain. The exit negotiations began in June 2017. Representatives of the 28 member states who now meet regularly in the “EU capital” of Brussels are sweating. On the one hand, because no country has ever left the alliance. On the other hand, because the British don't really know what they want anymore either.

Theresa May, the British head of government since July 2016, had long campaigned for the so-called hard Brexit - a "divorce" with all the consequences: no duty-free trade with the other EU states, no uncomplicated traveling and working, no common laws and - not a cent more to the EU.

But in the most recent elections in June 2017, Theresa May received far fewer votes than expected. The younger ones especially don't like the hard line; they appreciate the many advantages of the EU. The 1.2 million British people who live, study and work in other EU countries are also worried: Do we have to leave our adopted country now? Schoolchildren fear that the next exchange will fall flat, companies that they will not get rid of their goods, for example because tariffs make them more expensive.

They all therefore want a “soft Brexit” - a separation in friendship: Great Britain would no longer be a member of the EU, but would still be close to the alliance, like Norway. Norwegians can do business in Europe without any problems, but they have to pay money to the EU, allow EU citizens to live and work in Norway and comply with a number of EU laws.

How does it go from here?

The EU will not grant the British every wish. You cannot pick the cherry on the cake and just take advantage of the alliance, say EU ministers. If we allowed that, even more countries might come up with the idea of ​​leaving the EU. The British are facing tough negotiations - especially since the clock is ticking.

Because the "divorce" must be completed by the end of March 2019. Little time for a lot of decisions. What if it is not enough? Or if you don't agree? Some European heads of state have said: Great Britain could also reverse Brexit. The door to the EU would always be open to the British. The 48.1 percent who voted against Brexit in June 2016 would certainly be happy.