UK. Prime Minister Theresa May had a difficult year with Brexit negotiations, terrorist attacks and new elections, and this only during the first six months of the year. And there were no small issues that May had to deal with; will it be a “hard” or “soft” Brexit from the European Union, and how will the border with Ireland and the Scottish independence requirements go?
In a line of speech on January 17, Prime Minister May said that Parliament would be allowed to vote on when the EU exit would begin. However, no votes were needed in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. For voting there was a bill that was approved by Parliament’s House of Commons on 1 February. On March 7, the House of Lords also voted on the proposal, but with an addition that would give Parliament greater influence over the process. According to Countryaah.com, Parliament would have the opportunity to reject any agreements that the government has entered into with the EU. In addition: if EU negotiations were to end without an agreement, Parliament could stop withdrawing from the EU. That was not the case now; the lower house rejected this and the upper house was allowed to withdraw the supplement on March 13. On March 16, Queen Elizabeth also approved the proposal, which now meant that Theresa May could activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on leaving the EU. On March 29, the UK submitted its formal exit application to the EU’s permanent Council President Donald Tusk. In a speech to Parliament on the same day, May said: “There is no return from this. We are leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe. ”
During this process, Scotland attracted attention. Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon wanted promises of a new independence vote for the Scots, especially if there was talk of a “tough” Brexit, for example if the UK leaves the EU internal market. At the 2016 European elections, a majority of Scots voted for the EU. On February 7, the Scottish Parliament voted no to allow the British government to begin Brexit. It was a symbolic vote because May did not need permission from either Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland. In March, Prime Minister May claimed that all Scottish attempts at an independence vote would be blocked by the London Government. At the end of the month, the Scottish Parliament voted for a proposal by Sturgeon on a new referendum on an independent Scotland. This would take place sometime between autumn 2018 and spring 2019. As expected, the British government did not want to negotiate on this issue. After the June 8 election, however, hopes of independence died. The Scottish Nationalist Party SNP lost about a third of its seats in the British Parliament.
Because of the opposition’s opposition to Prime Minister May’s handling of Brexit discussions, a new election was announced on April 19. May simply wanted the voters’ support for a “hard” Brexit. Election day was set for June 8. What May wanted, given the good opinion numbers for her Tory, was to get a substantial mandate to continue Brexit negotiations. In a poll conducted in late April, Tory had 45% support from voters while Labor only had 26, the Liberal Democrats 11 and the right-wing populist UKIP 9%.
Prior to the election, a number of serious events occurred that may have affected the outcome of the election. On May 22, 22 people, several of them children, were killed in a terrorist attack in Manchester Arena, and in a terrorist attack in London on June 4, eight people were killed after a van crashed into a crowd at the London Bridge and the perpetrators then stabbed several people in Borough Market. Shortly after the election, a violent fire occurred in the Grenfell Tower high-rise building in west London, when some 70 people were killed. The tragic accident caused the authorities to start inspecting houses for flammable facade material. Criticism was also drawn against the fact that the property lacked approved fire protection: it consisted mainly of municipal rental apartments for low-income people and immigrants.
However, the June 8 election became a nightmare for Theresa May’s Tory Party. In the hope of a majority in Parliament, it all ended with a minority and support from the Northern Ireland Social Conservative DUP. The Tory Party backed by 13 seats and got 317, Labor increased by 30 seats and ended at 262.
During the summer and autumn Brexit talks, discussions continued on the so-called Brexit note and what will happen to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. In September, Britain said it was prepared to pay € 20 billion when leaving the Union. A sham bid according to the EU, which in November at least wanted EUR 60 billion, and that sum was met by a EUR 45 billion counter-offer. That bid was conditional on the negotiation of future trade relations to be entered in December. Something that didn’t happen.
As for the current “soft” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after the Brexit, the British Government promised in August that no physical barriers or border postings will be established between the countries. Every day, about 30,000 people cross the border. For Ireland, a “soft” Brexit would be best, that is, the UK remains in the Customs Union and has access to the EU’s internal market. At the end of November, the Irish government demanded a response from Theresa May about what would happen in a “tough” Brexit, ie without a customs union and access to the EU’s internal market. No solution to the question seemed to be in sight in December. However, another Brexit shock test was resolved when Prime Minister May promised in October that “EU citizens living legally in the UK today will be allowed to stay” even after Brexit.
In order to avoid a total economic collapse in the event of a “severe” Brexit, trade agreements were sought outside the EU. Discussions were going on with the US, including in connection with Theresa May’s visit to the White House, with New Zealand and Australia, but also with Japan, which is close to a trade agreement with the EU; this is what Theresa May hopes will be the basis for the UK after Brexit. In October, the possibility of joining North American NAFTA (Canada, Mexico and USA) was also discussed. NAFTA’s total GDP is $ 17,200 billion, compared to the EU’s $ 15,700 billion. In August, in order to have the straps attached to the leash, it was proposed that, after leaving the EU in March 2019, a temporary customs union with the Member States should be continued. EU:
At the beginning of December, the first round of exit from the Union was completed. A basic agreement was then reached with the EU, which meant that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (the EU’s external border) will not have any fixed controls, that EU citizens living and working in the UK may remain without change (this also applies to the UK). citizens of EU countries) and that the Brexit note, that is to say the cost of leaving the EU, is in the range of 40-45 billion euros.
Notes from the royal house: August 2, Prince Philip made his last official commitment. After 22,219 such assignments, the 96-year-old prince chose to retire. On November 27, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle had engaged. Weddings will be spring 2018.