School Books with Apple

Established Professor Claims ‘Higher Education In The UK Is Morally Bankrupt’

Ulf Schmidt has been living and working in the UK for the past 25 years, but after seeing how the educational system in the country is responding to the coronavirus pandemic in relation to keeping students/staff safe, he’s ready to leave.

Europe & British Union Flags

How Will Brexit Affect American Travelers?

After several years of debate the United Kingdom is still trying to secure its deal for leaving the European Union, and following Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party securing victory in their general election just before Christmas, it seems Britain can finally leave the European Union on 31st January 2020. However many travelers are worrying about how this may affect them when traveling to the UK and Europe.

The good news is that nothing should change straight away. Although the official date is 31st January 2020 both the European Union and Britain has until the end of the year to finalize all the details. But for travelers there could be an issue at the borders.

Currently travelers have been able to move from one country to another without having to use customs or passport control, however once Britain has officially left this could all change. In fact one of the major issues causing the delay in the agreement has been the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The former will remain a member of the EU as it is not part of the UK and there have been concerns that some people could abuse the “back door” entry into the country.

So far the effect that Brexit may have on the country’s politics and economy is unclear yet there appears to be more certainty on how the post-Brexit world will impact travelers.

Embed from Getty Images

The main concern is air travel and how this could be disrupted between America and Britain. There is currently an agreement known as an EU open skies agreement between America and the European Union, allowing airlines from both regions into each other’s areas. However Britain has already created bilateral open-skies agreements with several other countries, including Iceland, Morocco, Albania, Switzerland as well as the United States. They are also in talks with other countries to enable replica agreements to be set up.

Having the open-skies agreement already in place with America means that airlines are still able to fly between the two countries after January 31st.

Ninan Chacko is a former chief executive at the Travel Leaders Group, a corporation that represents over 50,000 travel agents in North America and believes that “the UK is taking all the steps necessary and is rolling out the welcome mat.”

But what if you are traveling and want to fly from Britain to any of the countries in the EU? There should not be many changes for Americans, as they will still have to pass through both customs and immigration in Britain as well as the country they are visiting or leaving, just as they always have done.

The main changes will be for European Union or British nationals who can travel between the different countries only showing a national ID card and a passport when entering Great Britain. However they will now be forced to use their passport across the EU and European Citizens will not be able to only use their national cards when entering the UK at the end of the year.

Embed from Getty Images

The British government and the European Commission are currently discussing whether British nationals could be allowed to travel within the EU for short trips of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. However the proposal from the EU will only allow this if the same privilege has been returned to their citizens. If this is the case all citizens will receive a specific stamp in their passports.

Another issue that could affect Americans travelling between Britain and the EU is the use of trains and ferries. Currently the French passport control for the Eurotunnel is on the British side of the channel and the British government has confirmed that all trains, ferries, cruises as well as bus and coach services will continue to run without any changes.

Another change that had been thought to occur is the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004, which is the European Union’s reimbursement scheme for any passengers who have had a delayed or canceled flight. This scheme is open to all travelers, whichever country they are from, and it has been confirmed this should not change.

Christian Nielsen, Chief Legal Officer at AirHelp, has confirmed that it is anticipated that Brexit will not impact travelers’ protections under EC 261, even if the airline they are using is a British airline. Nielsen commented “since the UK has previously acknowledged European air passenger rights laws like EC 261 – and then incorporated them into the UK Withdrawal Act of 2018 – passengers’ rights will remain protected.”

At the moment, Americans are not required to hold a visa when visiting Britain and this is expected to remain the same. However passports will need to be valid for the entirety of the trip. If they are traveling into the Schengen area – the area comprising of the 26 European countries that allow travelers to cross their borders – the passport will need to be valid for six months after their trip has ended.

A new security system to screen visa-free travelers will be in place from January 2021. Although not related to Brexit all Americans, Britons and travelers from other countries will have to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System. The authorization is relatively easy to do online and only costs a small fee.

3 Flags

World Leaders Meet in London for NATO Summit

Countries around the world converged in London for this year’s meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which has seen spats and disagreements as well as the usual meeting of world leaders. With the number of member nations increasing from 12 to 29 since NATO’s creation in 1949, President Donald Trump has declared America could start trade action with countries he feels are not contributing as much as others.

And although many countries are already, or are nearly, reaching the 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product contribution for NATO, Trump appeared unhappy, commenting:

“A lot of countries are close and getting closer. And some are really not close, and we may do things having to do with trade. It’s not fair that they get U.S. protection and they’re not putting up their money.”

A planned 70th anniversary celebration summit saw French President Emmanuel Macron and Trump disagree over which way they believe NATO should go in the future. With demands that Europe gives U.S. interests concessions on trade as well as increasing its contribution for defense, Trump has made it clear he is unhappy with some aspects of an organization that has been seen by many to be the most successful pact in military history.

Yet he was full of praise towards the end of the summit after he confirmed his meetings had been successful and that he believes “NATO is in very, very good shape and the relationships with other countries are really extraordinary.”

Embed from Getty Images

While this may be the case between countries, the same cannot be said for the relationships between world leaders. A video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to show him criticizing Trump to a group of other leaders, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rute, French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Princess Anne and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The short clip – which has subsequently gone viral – appears to show Trudeau laughing and gossiping about Trump’s unscheduled press conference. Johnson inquires why Macron is late and Trudeau responds “he was late because he takes a… 40 minute press conference at the top,” while Macron nods his agreement. Although President Trump was not mentioned by name, he has since accused Trudeau of being “two-faced” while Trudeau seemed to be annoyed over remarks made by Trump implying he believes Canada is not keeping up to its financial commitments for NATO.

Trump also criticized Macron after he recently released a statement where he said NATO was dealing with a “brain death” due to a decline in the U.S. leadership, a comment Trump referred to as a “nasty statement.” Yet ‘hot mic’ incidents are becoming more common and Trump himself was caught commenting on his cancelled press conference scheduled for the end of the trip saying:

“Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”

Trump also took to Twitter to comment on the summit stating that “great progress” has been made at NATO since he became POTUS three years ago.

Embed from Getty Images

Yet there have been many disagreements throughout the summit – particularly in relation to Turkey and terrorism – leading to all members presenting a united front at a golf resort, just outside of London. Posing for a ‘family’ photo, the leaders then headed to a three hour meeting with a statement being released shortly afterwards promising to concentrate on issues of importance including China — who is emerging as a superpower in the world despite it’s trade war with America — and Russia, who still appear to be creating issues.

The statement included:

“Our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”

Trump has also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the White House confirming “the two Presidents discussed the importance of Turkey fulfilling its alliance commitments, further strengthening commerce through boosting bilateral trade by $100 billion, regional security challenges, and energy security.”

However, Trump’s comment that nations not hitting their targeted contributions could be resolved “from a trade standpoint,” or adding tariffs to products such as French wine, did not go down well with Macron. France currently contributes 1.9% of their GDP and Trump’s comments prompted him to reply, “it’s not just about money. What about peace in Europe? It’s impossible just to say we have to put money, we have to put soldiers, without being clear on the fundamentals of what NATO should be.”

The pair continued to disagree on further issues including how to deal with Islamic State after U.S. forces were withdrawn from Syria in October — a decision Trump made without discussion with NATO — making it easier for Turkey to target U.S. allied Kurdish militia based in the north of Syria, sparking fears of an increase in IS attacks.

When discussing whether France should be doing more regarding taking captured Islamic State fighters, Trump asked Macron if he wanted “some nice ISIS fighters.” However, Macron argued that the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops had caused problems claiming “you have more and more of these fighters due to the situation today.”

Ballot Box

Brexit Virtually Certain as Conservatives Sweep U.K. Election

A historic election in the U.K. has given the country’s Conservative Party a powerful majority in the British Parliament, allowing controversial Prime Minister Boris Johnson to essentially reshape British politics for years to come. Though the Labour Party had hoped that the recent election would remove Johnson from the position of Prime Minister, paving the way for a second referendum to potentially prevent the country’s departure from the European Union, voters decided overwhelmingly that Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was more fit to lead Britain.

Johnson, whose primary political message has been a promise to “get Brexit done” as quickly as possible, now faces little to no opposition as his power has just been augmented considerably. That being said, much of Britain’s future is now uncertain, as the negotiations involving the country’s departure from the European Union continue to be complicated and controversial. Experts are uncertain about the long-term ramifications of leaving the EU, though most economists project that the economic downturn already caused by the 2016 referendum, in which a slim majority of the country voted to leave the EU, will only worsen.

Embed from Getty Images

Now, the country will almost certainly leave the European Union early next year, a polarizing move which is sure to delight half the country and frustrate the other half. For many living in the U.K., Brexit represents a rejection of liberal ideas in favor of conservative ones, as the decision to leave the E.U. is connected with anti-immigrant sentiment as well as nationalistic pride. Indeed, yesterday’s victory indicates how thoroughly this conservative sentiment has enraptured the British electorate, as the Conservative Party’s victory is the largest the country has seen since the victory that led to the election of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1987. The election represents a tremendous victory for Boris Johnson particularly because his tenure as Prime Minister has gotten off to a rocky start, characterized by several defeats in Parliament, as he was legally blocked from pursuing a no-deal Brexit and a deal he negotiated with the European Union was voted down in Parliament.

Now, however, Boris Johnson will be in power for five years, a period of time during which he has the power to make tremendous political changes to the country, with the historically consequential Brexit being the first order of business. The value of the pound skyrocketed after news of the election spread, reflecting a belief that the chaos that has for years defined British politics will soon subside and the country’s departure from the EU will be orderly and largely uncontested in Parliament, as Johnson’s power to negotiate terms of a Brexit deal in accordance with his wishes has expanded tremendously.

Embed from Getty Images

That being said, Johnson still faces some opposition in Parliament. Specifically, the Scottish National Party, which gained more than a dozen seats in the election, stridently opposes Mr. Johnson’s desire to get Brexit done as quickly as possible, and the party may push for calls for a referendum on Scottish independence, which would allow Scotland to remain in the EU by breaking ties with England. Additionally, Mr. Johnson’s negotiations to leave the EU are likely to be influenced by the country’s working class, who are likely to focus on invigorating Britain’s manufacturing economy and protecting the economy from imports, a vision that contradicts the Prime Minister’s desires.

International observers have had a wide range of perspectives on the issue, with many analysts judging the country’s historic election, which will have ramifications around the world, as a sign of exhaustion and frustration with democracy in an information age that is saturated with political news of all ideologies and biases. With the vote to impeach President Trump being held today in the United States House of Representatives, one thing is for certain: the moment we are currently living in is a consequential and pivotal one in the history of global democracy, which faces unprecedented threats from multiple fronts.

Europe & British Union Flags

Brexit Leads To A 10-Year High For British Emigration Figures

A study by academics at Oxford University and the Berline Social Science Centre has revealed that emigration figures are the highest in a decade, as more people than ever are quitting the UK for a life oversees. The figures suggest that 84,000 UK citizens migrated to the EU this year, compared to just 58.000 in 2015, prior to the Brexit vote.

According to figures released by the United Nations, by 2020, Austria will have the highest rate of net migration of any Western Country, with Canada and Germany running a joint-second. Other reports have indicated that by 2039, 1 in 3 people living in Germany will come from a migrant background.

In the US, figures reported by CNN reveal that in 2017, 1,127,167 people were granted ‘lawful permanent residence’ in the country, with the most popular countries of origin being Mexico, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic and India.

Migrating to a new country can be a daunting prospect, and it can come with its fair share of challenges. Menaca Pothalingham, a serial entrepreneur, ambassador for women’s empowerment, author and resilience strategist, has overcome much adversity including escaping the Sri Lankan Civil War, battling stress-related illness and succeeding as a migrant Asian woman in business, alongside being a single mother.

During Menaca’s childhood, she enjoyed public speaking and performing. After migrating to India during the war, she found herself alongside others who had been educated in English. The experience left her lacking in confidence and worried about her ability to keep up with the others.

Embed from Getty Images

When she relocated again, this time to the UK, she was not only concerned about gaining fluency in the language, she was also worried that her accent would hold her back. She feared that her inadequacy in English meant that she wasn’t able to convey herself correctly and in the way she intended.

Despite achieving much success over the years, Menaca struggled with these limiting beliefs and this in turn, stopped her from speaking publicly, driven in part by the seemingly helpful advice from someone who told her that her accent would be problematic for her. This fear stayed with her until she shared her concerns one day, only to receive a surprising response; that is was this very accent that identified her so clearly on a podcast, audiobook or on stage. The fact that her accent was easily recognizable was something her friend considered to be an immense gift to possess. She immediately realized that her uniqueness was her strength and not her weakness.

Finally breaking free from her fears, Menaca went on to become an award-winning international speaker. She still has moments of insecurity, but has learned how to overcome these negative thoughts through reframing the way she looked at the world.

“My mission is now to help other migrants emerge from their limiting beliefs, evolve in their life through developing their confidence, be open to opportunities and elevate them to their full potential,” explains Menaca.

“The only factor that prevents migrants from realizing their dreams is their own doubts and disbelief. Life is so often full of clutter and confusion and this leads to a lack of clarity. It is so important to embrace the reality that you are in, understand where you need to gain more expand your skills and knowledge and ask for help when it is needed, “ she explains.

Embed from Getty Images

The road to success for migrants is often difficult and unpredictable; even quite scary. Such uncertainty requires you to take action and not continue doing what you’ve always done. If Menaca could give one piece of advice, it would be to stop comparing yourself to others. This requires the development of a positive mindset and confidence. People tend to value themselves by how proficient they are in something, but are there other aspects of their persona which are equally if not more valuable? Celebrating small successes is an essential factor in building self-value, yet many of us are guilty of setting themselves up to fail, explains Menaca.

“We set goals which aren’t achievable and when we fail, our self-esteem takes a hit. This is why it is essential to set goals which are actually achievable, helping you to move towards your ideal destination. It is advisable for the goal to be broken down into a few smaller steps as opposed to one large leap.”

Taking care of your mental health is also essential, and there is a clear link between self-care and emotional wellbeing. ‘A healthy balanced lifestyle in turn helps to promote better mental health and emotional stability,” explains Menaca, who speaks from experience having suffered from a stress-related illness herself.

Finally, she advises to trust in your own opinion and cautiously consider all others. ‘Their opinion is only ever their perception; it is not the truth,” she warns wisely.


Europe & British Union Flags

How Brexit is Affecting Travel

Ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union, the effects have been felt in many aspects of European life, not the least of which is the travel industry. Brexit, the term that has been adopted to refer to the decision to leave, has left people uncertain about the future of travelling both to and from England, as well as in other areas around the world. Though Britain has not yet officially left the EU, the impacts of the decision are already impacting trade and travel in this part of the world, as people prepare for the uncertain impact of this major change in policy. One of the benefits of membership in the European Union is the built-in travel agreements, called “Freedom of Movement rules,” between countries that make it easy for citizens of member countries to visit other member countries. Once this benefit is removed, British citizens will certainly face more difficulties when travelling, though various countries are taking steps to mitigate the decision’s impact.

Embed from Getty Images

Perhaps the most immediate effect of the Brexit decision was a change in the value of the pound; before the decision, the pound was valued at $1.50, but its value has since dropped to $1.30. This is good news for Americans looking to vacation in Britain, as it means that their money has more spending power in that country. However, citizens of the U.K. looking to travel around the world will find that their travel expenses will increase as a result of Brexit. Though no one yet knows for sure what the full economic impact of Britain leaving the EU will be, economists have predicted that Brexit will continue to have a negative impact on the Europearn economy as a whole, meaning these travel difficulties for British citizens aren’t going away anytime soon.

Despite the efforts of countries like Spain, however, Brexit is sure to have negative impacts on the travel experience no matter what.

In light of the problems posed by Brexit, several popular tourist destinations have implemented programs designed to encourage travel in order to protect their tourism industries. Spain, for instance, which is a popular vacation destination among Europeans, has announced a “plan B” to try to mitigate travel difficulties in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Under this plan, Spain hopes to strike a treaty with the UK after the country leaves the European Union in order to continue to allow British vacationers to visit Spain without substantial change to the travel process. Behind closed doors, government officials are negotiating the terms of this treaty, even though no one knows for sure the details of Britain’s eventual departure from the EU yet. As many local businesses in Spain depend on tourism for their livelihood, and as many of the country’s visitors come from the U.K., Spain is prioritizing ensuring travel between the countries adapts to Brexit as smoothly as possible.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite the efforts of countries like Spain, however, Brexit is sure to have negative impacts on the travel experience no matter what. As the UK has been a member of the EU for several decades, many of the country’s laws, especially those dealing with other European countries, are directly tied to the EU, and severing these ties will lead to all manner of headaches. For instance, laws concerning roaming services for cell phone usage while abroad will have to be rewritten after Brexit, and changes to rules concerning air travel are likely to cause longer wait times in airports as well as preventing some people from traveling. Currently, UK passports are emblazoned with the words “European Union,” and while the government has said that British citizens will not be immediately required to renew their passports after Brexit, the future of the system for issuing passports is unknown.

Man Voting

UK Heads For Polls As Pre-Christmas Election Date Looms

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally got his wish as Parliament waved through a law that will see the country go to the polls on Thursday, December 12. It will be the third General Election in four years.

The US will look on with interest as Conservative Party leader Johnson and his government are already said to be in discussions with President Trump and officials about a new trade deal, if and when the UK finally quits the European Union (EU).

Brexit, which has been rumbling on since 2016 when the country narrowly voted “out” in a Yes-No referendum, looks set to be the biggest issue of the forthcoming election campaign.

By a margin of 438 votes to 20, the House of Commons approved legislation paving the way for the first December election since 1923. Mr Johnson has said the public must be “given a choice” over the future of Brexit and the country.

He hopes the election will give him a fresh mandate for his Brexit deal and break the current Parliamentary deadlock, which has led to the UK’s exit being further delayed to 31 January.

Opposition and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in response: “This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding people back.” He added his party would “launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change that our country has ever seen”.

Embed from Getty Images

But some Labour MPs have expressed misgivings over the timing of the election, believing only another referendum can settle the Brexit question for good. A total of 127 Labour MPs, including Mr Corbyn, supported the election.

Mr Johnson told his Conservative Party colleagues it was time for the country to “come together to get Brexit done”. He stated: “It’ll be a tough election and we are going to do the best we can.”

The UK’s minority parties may have a big say in shaping the next Parliament, with a new Prime Minister set to be named on December 13th. The centrist Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) and the Scottish National Party (SNP) both see the election as a chance to ask voters whether Brexit should happen at all.

The pro-EU leader of the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson, has pitched herself as “the Liberal Democrat candidate for prime minister”. She adds: ”It is our best chance to elect a government to stop Brexit.”

For the SNP, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said an election was an opportunity for Scotland to hold another independence referendum. “The SNP is ready for an election. We stand ready to take the fight to the Tories, to bring down this undemocratic government, and give Scotland the chance to escape from Brexit and decide our own future,” she opined. “Scotland has been ignored and treated with contempt by Westminster, and this election is an opportunity to bring that to an end.”

The Scottish Conservatives claimed voting for their party would keep Scotland in the UK.

Embed from Getty Images

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage welcomed the election, tweeting that the deadlock in Parliament had been broken and “Brexit now has a chance to succeed”.

If Mr Johnson’s party wins, it’s expected Brexit legislation can be completed by the beginning of 2020, allowing Britain to leave the EU and be free to set up trade deals outside the European bloc. Negotiations would also then begin with the EU on a new trading relationship with the UK.

However, estimates say a deal currently on the table – which Mr Johnson will use as the central plank of his election campaign – could leave the UK £70bn worse off than if it had remained in the EU.

A study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) concluded that growth would be 3.5% lower in 10 years’ time under the deal. The independent forecaster’s outlook is one of the first assessments of how the economy will fare under the new deal.

But the Treasury said it plans on a ‘more ambitious’ agreement with the EU than NIESR is basing its findings on. A spokesman said: “We are aiming to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, which is more ambitious than the standard free trade deal that NIESR has based its findings on.”

NIESR said approval of the Prime Minister’s deal “would reduce the risk of a disorderly outcome, but eliminate the possibility of a closer trading relationship with the EU”. Despite the agreement between the EU and the UK removing uncertainty, customs and regulatory barriers would hinder goods and services trade with the continent leaving all regions of the United Kingdom worse off than they would be if the UK stayed in the EU, NIESR said.

“We estimate that, in the long run, the economy would be 3.5% smaller with the deal compared to continued EU membership,” it added.


Brexit Delayed for a Third Time

Much to the dismay of U.K. citizens who are exhausted by the ongoing drama created by the decision to withdraw from the European Union, the deadline for leaving has been extended yet again, from October 31st of this year to January 31st, 2020. The extension was granted after Parliament again voted against a deal Boris Johnson made with the E.U. and resulted from legislation requiring the Prime Minister to seek an extension if a deal could not be agreed upon. Although Johnson famously stated that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit again, he was compelled by law to do just that, and the E.U. agreed to postpone the departure for an additional three months.

Under what European Council President Donald Tusk called a “flextension,” the U.K. will be able to leave before January 31st if it is able to agree on a deal in advance of the deadline. If the past few years of Brexit negotiations are any indication, however, the country’s ability to agree upon a deal within the next three months seems unlikely. 

Embed from Getty Images

In response to Parliament’s failure to ratify his deal, Johnson has advocated for holding an election to form a new government, which he hopes would be able to break the deadlock Parliament is currently experiencing. Though previous attempts to hold another election and reform the government have failed, support for another election has been growing among different parties in Parliament. Today, members of Parliament voted against Johnson’s request to hold an election on December 12th, but Johnson reportedly will try again to call an election on Tuesday.

The extension was announced during ongoing protests against Brexit, held by citizens who fear the negative political impacts of leaving the European Union. Protestors advocate for a second referendum to again determine whether the U.K. should leave the E.U., but the probability of this referendum being held is low. Current polls suggest that, if another election is held, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party would gain seats in Parliament, making it easier to pass a deal to leave the European Union. 

If another election is held, the Labour Party is expected to campaign on a platform of pushing for another referendum, though they have stated they would not publicly endorse either the option to leave or to remain. The results of a second referendum are hard to predict; while some people who voted to leave now regret their decision after witnessing the political chaos that has unfolded, others who voted to remain may now desire to leave just to get it over with. And the extreme fatigue many are feeling over the ordeal of Brexit has discouraged some U.K. citizens from engaging in politics at all, as some who voted in previous elections have said they would choose not to vote in future ones.



Britain and the E.U. Reach Tentative Brexit Deal

On Thursday, the European Union and Britain announced that they had reached an agreement for Brexit, just two weeks in advance of the October 31st deadline for departing the organization. Britain’s decision to withdraw from the multi-country alliance, the result of a 2016 referendum in which a narrow majority of British citizens voted to leave, has plunged the country into several years of chaos and intragovernmental conflict, as various parties within the country’s Parliament argued vehemently about how to conduct the extraordinarily complicated process of withdrawal. Tensions have only continued to escalate within the country’s government since they promised to implement the results of the referendum, eventually leading to the election of the highly controversial Boris Johnson to Prime Minister, who campaigned on a promise to “get Brexit done,” no matter what. 

Embed from Getty Images

While all possible scenarios for Brexit are forecasted to have a strongly negative effect on the European economy, with the country’s decision to leave having already led to an economic downturn, the no-deal Brexit scenario is widely considered the worst possible outcome. As such, Johnson’s pledge to leave the EU by October 31st, with or without a deal, has raised alarms within the government and the passing of legislation requiring the Prime Minister to reach an agreement with the EU before leaving. With today’s news, a major hurdle for Boris Johnson has been overcome, though the deal is not official until it passes a vote in Parliament. As previous proposed deals have failed in spectacular fashion to receive a necessary majority vote from members of Parliament, leading to the resignation of then-Prime Minister Theresa May, the future of Brexit is by no means certain.

That being said, the new deal seeks to account for many of the complaints that members of Parliament had about Theresa May’s deal which led to its failure to get through Parliament. Under the revised deal, Northern Ireland will be a part of the U.K. customs territory, instead of being in a separate customs area from the rest of the country, which lawmakers cited as a reason for rejecting the previous deal. The new deal gives a degree of “democratic consent” to Northern Ireland, a part of the U.K. that voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, as the Northern Ireland assembly will be called to vote on whether to continue this arrangement in the future. 

As the potentially disastrous economic consequences of Brexit become more immediate, however, some U.K. lawmakers are instead calling for a second referendum to hopefully undo the decision to leave the E.U. The Labour party, which opposes the Conservative party led by Johnson, is expected to attempt to force another referendum, under the reasoning that having witnessed several years of governmental chaos has caused a majority of the country to favor staying in the European Union. Public opinion polling has shown that a plurality of U.K. citizens believe, in hindsight, that the decision to leave the E.U. was a mistake, and a second referendum could offer these citizens an opportunity to undo the chaotic results of the previous vote. 

Embed from Getty Images

However, another referendum is unlikely to be conducted before a Parliament vote on whether to accept Johnson’s deal, which is due to be held on Saturday. Though it is difficult to predict the results of Saturday’s vote, members of the opposition party have already publicly criticized the new deal, calling it “a far worse deal than Theresa May’s deal” and raising concerns about its impact on workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer protection. The U.K.’s membership in the E.U. has long been deeply integrated into the country’s system of government, and as such, concerns about withdrawal apply not only to the European economy but to the impact it could have on the rights and wellbeing of British citizens.

Europe & British Union Flags

Chaos Unfolds in UK as Parliament Takes Unprecedented Actions Over Brexit

On June 23rd, 2016, a referendum was held in the UK to determine whether or not the country should remain a member of the European Union. A majority, 51.9%, of voters indicated that the UK should leave the EU, and though the referendum was not legally binding, the government has committed to following through with the decision, resulting in fierce negotiations about how the departure should be carried out. In response to the referendum, the then-Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, giving formal notice to the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the union and allowing negotiations to begin. The original deadline to leave the EU, March 29, 2019, was extended twice as a serious of tumultuous debates in Parliament raged on. The current deadline to leave the union is October 31st, and the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has made clear that he will resist any further efforts to extend the deadline. The term “Brexit,” a portmanteau of “Britain” and “exit,” has emerged as shorthand to refer to the UK’s departure from the EU.

The decision to leave the European Union is perhaps one of the most significant political choices made by the UK in modern times, and the consequences of doing so are difficult to predict, though nearly all economists predict that Brexit will have a strong negative impact on the European economy generally, and claim that the result of the referendum has already had a damaging effect. However, a second referendum to reconsider the decision is unlikely, and much of the current debate in Parliament is centered around whether the UK should leave the European Union without negotiating an agreement with the EU, a so called “no-deal Brexit,” or whether a deal should be pursued, delaying the governmental process of leaving the EU even further beyond what already has been several years of argumentation. Among experts, a no-deal Brexit is considered the worst of all possible outcomes, as the consequences of doing so would be more unstructured, chaotic, and destructive than making an arrangement with the EU to ease the transition.

Embed from Getty Images

Recently, Boris Johnson, the current Prime Minister of the UK, was elected, having run on a platform of taking the country out of the EU as quickly as possible, even if that means doing so without a deal. Previous attempts to negotiate a deal have been unsuccessful, as Parliament has been unable to come to an agreement as to which deal to pursue. The former Prime Minister, Theresa May, was unable to negotiate a withdrawal agreement, and resigned as a consequence.

Despite Parliament’s ongoing failure to decide upon terms for withdrawal, however, most members of Parliament strongly oppose a no-deal Brexit, for fear of disastrous economic and political consequences, and have taken unprecedented action in an attempt to prevent it, in so doing shattering constitutional norms. Some MPs who oppose a no-deal Brexit are members of Johnson’s party, the Conservative Party. As a result of these party members taking the highly irregular act of breaking ranks with the Prime Minister, Johnson no longer has a majority lead in Parliament, diminishing his political power substantially. In a controversial effort to ensure a no-deal Brexit, Johnson decided to suspend Parliament for five weeks, to reconvene just a few days before the next European Council, in which negotiations for a withdrawal agreement could occur, and just a few weeks before the scheduled Brexit date. This decision was met with fierce opposition from most members of Parliament, who sought judicial action preventing the suspension of Parliament and successfully passed a bill into law requiring the Prime Minister to delay the Brexit date yet again unless a deal is reached. If Johnson defies this law, he faces potential jail time. Amidst the controversy, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has announced he will step down before the October 31st deadline.

Embed from Getty Images

As time has progressed since the referendum, public opinion in the UK has shifted slightly in the direction of opposing Brexit, in light of the political chaos the decision has wrought and increased awareness of the likely negative consequences. Additionally, trust in political representatives generally has waned, as citizens are frustrated with the government’s inability to carry out the country’s agenda. Johnson has claimed, not unreasonably, that if the country decides yet again to delay Brexit, citizens, particularly members of the Conservative Party he ostensibly leads, will view this as a failure of democracy. A decision to remain in the EU or a second referendum, while very unlikely, could also be interpreted as a failure of democracy, as while referendums are not legally binding they are intended as a means by which the general public provides direction and sets goals for the government. Though the political crisis in the UK is one entirely of the country’s own creation, it serves as a test of the strength of its democratic system of government, and irrespective of the outcome, Brexit will certainly have major political ramifications during the foreseeable future and beyond.