Simply put, "Brexit" stands for the British Exit of the European Union. The original idea for Brexit first surfaced in 2013 when David Cameron was Prime Minister of England. Cameron hoped to reform the perks that the U.K. received from its place within the Union. He wanted more sovereignty and social benefits for British citizens and a tighter grip on internal economic governance. During a 2013 speech given to the Union, Cameron explained the U.K. needed to be "...independent, forthright, passionate in defense of [its] sovereignty" (The Guardian). 

 

On June 23rd, 2016, Britain held a referendum on its E.U. membership with citizens voting on whether to stay or leave; 51.9% voted to leave the E.U. while 48.1% voted to remain. On June 24th, Cameron announced his resignation from the Prime Minister's office. Theresa May became his successor, and in early 2017, the British government published the "European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill." Later that year, May called a general election to be held in early June of 2017. This was a surprise to U.K. citizens everywhere, as the next general election was not to be held until 2020. She stated that this election was called in order to keep the circulation of the Brexit deal moving through Parliament. However, some theories suggest she called this election because of her status as a Conservative leader; if the U.K. Conservative party won this surprise election, her seat as prime minister would be secure for five more years. The election resulted in Conservative politicians winning the most seats in Parliament. With May leading them, this meant that there was a possibility that the Brexit deal could be sealed faster because of the support she had. After this election, the first round of Brexit negotiations began. The Withdrawal Bill took a long time to circulate through the British government, but in June of 2018, the bill officially became an Act of Parliament. This did not, however, mean that the U.K. was officially exiting the E.U.

 

In December of 2018, members of Parliament began their first of five days of Brexit debates. This resulted in May losing the "Meaningful vote," which can also be described as an "official" parliamentary vote. She presented Brexit "Plan B" due to many Conservative MP's retaliating against their own party and May scrambling to negotiate a new Brexit deal with Parliament. This "Plan B" deal suffered a loss when presented to the House of Commons. In May 2019, another deal was unveiled by Theresa May due to her requesting an extension to negotiate new deals through the end of June. May shortly resigned after this, which could be attributed to Parliament consistently turning down Brexit plans and leaving the U.K. in a state of limbo. In 2020, the general election occurred, and Boris Johnson replaced May as the new Prime Minister. He began this position in July of that year. 

 

Johnson decided to commit to a decision regarding the U.K.'s potential exit of the E.U. in October of 2019. Remember the "European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill" from 2016? Under Johnson, this newly refurbished Act became law. On January 31st, 2020, after seven years of this issue being up in the air, the U.K. officially left the E.U. The trials and tribulations that Parliament went through to get to where they are today meant tension for U.K. citizens. Many protests and celebrations occurred when "Brexit Day" finally happened. Protestors across the U.K. waved flags and wore t-shirts with the words "we'll be back." Celebrators got together with family and friends to raise a pint to the deal being finalized. There has been much debate over what the leading cause for citizens voting to leave was. One reason that has been theorized about is a disparity in educational access across the U.K., which leads to ideas of nationalism and eurocentrism. Part of choosing to leave the E.U. was that immigrants would have less access to the travel channels through Europe that the E.U. allows. This can be compared to the U.S., as one aspect of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was to "build the wall" and keep out immigrants from Mexico.. The working class in the U.K. may have believed a similar story upon voting to leave the E.U. The working class has not had up-to-date information regarding immigration and current events nor a holistic education that would allow them to understand the oppression an immigrant may face in a Western country. With this lack of education, xenophobia, nationalism, eurocentrism can begin to fester within those minds.

 

Brexit is a complicated issue. Leaving the E.U. means many things other than travel channels being less accessible to non-UK citizens. It has sparked a movement of other countries hoping to leave the E.U., in occurrences such as France's "Frexit." It's hard to see what right and wrong is in this issue because of the complicated timeline and the complex factors that go into this event. In any case, the U.K. is in a period of transition now. Nobody knows what the future holds. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit hasn't been heard about as much. However, this will surely not be the last time the world has its eyes on the U.K.