Classroom 101: Brexit- The UK’s EU Referendum

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British withdrawal from the European Union is shortened to Brexit (Britain + Exit).

Let’s have a little history lesson first!

What exactly is European Union?

It is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after the World War II to foster economic cooperation. It has since grown to become a single market allowing goods and people to move around, as if member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, used by 19 of the member countries.

*Britain does not use Euro, it uses Pound*

Britain was the last one of member countries to join EU and the first one to leave it.

UK joined European Economic Community (precursor to EU) in 1973 under the Conservative government. In 1975 referendum, the electorate was asked to vote yes or no on the question of withdrawal from EU. The majority voted in favour of staying, and so it stayed.

Let’s come back to present scenario!

British PM David Cameron announced a referendum date of 23 June 2016 and set out the legal framework for withdrawal from the EU in circumstances where there was a referendum majority to leave (51.9%), citing Article 50*.

*Withdrawal from EU is a right of EU member states under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on EU.

What are the Pros and Cons of Brexit?


Some estimates suggest that the total economic cost of EU membership is around 11% of Britain’s annual GDP. Brexiters say this money would be better spent on new British industries and scientific research.

Without EU, Britain can independently pursue international trade deals with India, China, and the US.

Most Brexiters see EU as over regulated. Leaving, as said, would allow the UK government and financial authorities to design a regulatory framework more suited to British needs.

Immigration is the most charged issue in the referendum debate. One of the EU’s founding principles is the free movement of people. Because of this, UK has no control over immigration from other EU member states.



EU is one of the world’s largest markets accounting for 25% of global GDP. Pro-EU camp argues that the access to EU market balances out the cost of membership.

EU has introduced many directives which undoubtedly help British workers like regulated working hours, paid parental leave, anti discrimination law etc.

Around 3 million UK jobs are reliant on the EU. (Probably explains Ravish Kumar’s constant questioning in his show ‘Prime Time’, “naukri ka kya hoga?”)

Immigration appears in this list as well. Staying would mean that the 1.4 million Britishers settled in other EU member states wouldn’t need to move back or get visas.

*Above list explains why the majority of young voters voted against the withdrawal from EU.*

Scotland and Northern Ireland also voted against the withdrawal and are unhappy with Brexit.

British PM David Cameron has resigned and stated that he will work for next 10 months till a new PM is in place for he will be unable to work efficiently under the new policies. Cameron wanted Britain to stay in the EU. He sought an agreement with other EU leaders to change the terms of Britain’s membership.

Who else wanted Britain to stay?

US President Barack Obama also wanted Britain to stay in the EU, as did other EU nations such as France and Germany.

They say that membership makes selling things to other EU countries easier and they argued the flow of immigrants, most of whom are young and keen to work, fuels economic growth and helps pay for public services.

However, Indian government is trying to allay fears of Brexit impact on Indian economy saying that there will not be any long term impact, and as trade strategies are reworked, there could be potential advantages too.


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