80% would hold the same election today as in the 2016 referendum, although the result would incline slightly in favor of remaining in the EU
Champagne and tears ran almost equally in the UK just five years ago, when the referendum result kicked off a long farewell to the EU. Five years later, the
open wounds during that destructive campaign they have not yet healed, and the country remains as divided as it was then on the European question. Eight out of ten voters would hold the same election today, although the result would lean slightly towards permanence.
Although the 2019 elections – which gave an absolute majority to Boris Johnson’s conservatives – have put an end to the stark parliamentary struggles that daily staged the deep division that ‘Brexit’ has sown in the country,
the british still can’t make amends. A poll by the National Center for Social Research (NatCen) indicates that 82% of those who voted on June 23, 2016 have not changed their mind. “Five years later, it is difficult to argue that the referendum has been an unmitigated success,” writes John Curtice, author of the study.
The referendum has had tangible political, social and economic consequences. The ‘Brexit’ has been a weighty factor in the last legislative and municipal elections, where traditionally Labor localities but that were inclined towards leaving the EU have opted for the conservatives, and also the other way around. It has exacerbated nationalism, or made it more visible, as evidenced by the Government’s ‘invitation’ for schools to celebrate a new holiday tomorrow, known as ‘One Britain, one Nation’. But they are not the only ones.
There is one place where, regardless of what was voted on five years ago, the general consensus is that the situation is worse: Northern Ireland. To preserve the Peace Accords and
don’t set a hard border between the two Irlandes, London and Brussels agreed to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which maintains this British territory within the European common market and shifts customs controls to the sea that separates Great Britain from Ireland, that is, de facto establishes a commercial border within the UK.
For this complex mechanism to work, it was necessary to have voluntarism and trust between both parties, just what has been most lacking since it was launched at the beginning of the year. The tensions have been constant, the EU accuses London of skipping it and this one of Brussels of extreme rigidity. The tension
adds fuel to the always volatile situation in the region, where in April there was violence that awakened old ghosts. To add complexity, the upcoming elections to the Northern Irish Parliament, which could be brought forward to this fall, threaten to be a plebiscite on the protocol, with the DUP unionists against and the Republican Sinn Féin in favor.
Scots for the most part said ‘no’ to independence in the 2014 referendum but, after ‘Brexit’, some seem to have changed their minds. Along with London, it was in the British territories where they most bet on permanence. Since then, the distaste
has exacerbated nationalist sentiments, some hoping that an independent Scotland could rejoin the EU.
Referendum in Scotland
The Scottish National Party, which controls the territorial Executive, has called for a second independence referendum, and does not rule out holding a unilateral one if London does not agree. This Wednesday the Government once again made it clear that
there will be no plebiscite, at least not before the British generals, scheduled for May 2024.
The United Kingdom and the EU reached a trade agreement in extremis last Christmas Eve, a treaty that, however, does not convince the British. According to a survey by the National Center for Social Research, only one in five believes that the pact is “good.” Although the customs collapse that some predicted has not occurred, and the
Covid tsunami has camouflaged some effects of ‘Brexit’, certain sectors suffer its economic consequences. This is the case of agri-food exports to the EU, which have fallen by almost 50% in the first quarter, about 2 billion pounds. Why? Mainly because of the bureaucracy added to these products, which require phytosanitary certificates, and due to delays in customs, which have discouraged exports to small producers. The most affected have been dairy products, which have fallen by 90%.
They are not the only ones harmed. The
service exports they lost some 113 billion pounds in the three years following the referendum. In January, Amsterdam ousted London as the main European stock exchange as there is no equivalence agreement between the UK and the EU at a financial level.
London hopes to sign free trade agreements with Australia and the US to make up for the losses. However, the purpose of these seems to be more to demonstrate the “economic and commercial sovereignty” promised by the ‘Brexit’ campaign, than to achieve a clear economic objective.
Extension to request residency
The British Government will grant an additional 28 days to EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and who have not yet applied for a residence permit. The time to request the status that would allow them to maintain the rights they enjoyed until now expires on June 30. However, the Minister of Immigration, Kevin Foster, has confirmed that those who have not yet applied will receive a notice that they have a period of four weeks to do so, or risk losing rights such as access to public health, by employment and could even be deported.
In the last two months, the authorities have received a barrage of demands, 10,000 or 12,000 a day, but it is estimated that there are still tens of thousands who, due to ignorance or because they belong to vulnerable groups, have not yet asked for their status to be recognized as “Settled” or “pre-settled”, the two categories envisaged by the Government. It was estimated that some 3 million Europeans lived in the country, but the response to the mechanism that London has put in place to regularize their situation after Brexit has exceeded expectations.
The Interior Ministry has received 5.6 million applications, 400,000 are still being processed. Those who do not receive a response at the end of the period will obtain a “certificate of application” that they can present to preserve their rights. The authorities promise to be flexible with those who have not yet made the request, and those who can justify a reasonable reason will not have a deadline.