What can we learn from the difficulties the UK is having in negotiating an exit from the European Union. What happens next? Why there is always a conflict between globalization and national sovereignty.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- What has happened since the original Brexit vote
- How the Irish border has become a huge sticking point in negotiations.
- What options does Great Britain have now that parliament has rejected the withdrawal agreement
- Why is there a conflict between globalization, democracy and nation states.
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Brexit offers many lessons in the conflicts that arise through economic unions. Having been a long and drawn-out controversy, Brexit has resurfaced as a major economic transition for the UK since the British Parliament voted against the Brexit deal to withdraw from the European Union in January. Host David Stein dissects the problems that have arisen due to the Brexit controversy and what we can learn from them about the need for countries and nations to decide between upholding national democracy and sovereignty or move towards a more global economy.
The basic principles of the controversial Brexit deal
Brexit has been controversial since the beginning with 52% of British voters voting for removal from the EU and 48% voting against it in 2016. The main issues centered around leaving the single European market and customs trade, the immigration and movement of citizens in and out of the UK and EU, and being released from the jurisdiction of the European court systems.
A deal was drawn up by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, and submitted for approval to Parliament. One of the largest issues was the Irish border. Northern Ireland – while they voted 56% to stay with the EU – belongs to the UK. The Republic of Ireland, however, doesn’t belong to the UK and is remaining with the EU. If the UK succeeded from the EU, then there would be a border drawn between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, possibly causing strained border relationships to re-emerge from the late 1900s. David explains that a hard border would cause significant strain on the economy of Ireland and the UK, while a soft border or some other external border is also problematic. The border was torn down in 1998, and no-one has the desire to re-build it. David shares the feelings of both sides regarding the Irish border throughout the episode, so be sure to listen all the way through!
Lesson one: long-held economic agreements are difficult to break
David explains that long-term agreements between nations and countries become part of the cultures involved, making it extremely difficult to break ties or change the status-quo. Since the UK has been part of the EU for 45 years, the transition to move away will make many parts of economic and government life seem alien to those who are accustomed to the way things have been. Businesses will all be affected by the change in economic power and regulation.
Lesson two: it can be tricky when choosing between national sovereignty and globalization
The second lesson from the Brexit controversy is that when a nation or country pulls away from a more globalized economy, they are forced to make their own regulations and laws, which can make trading with other countries more difficult – especially ones that are heavily globalized. They gain local autonomy while losing touch and influence on a more global scale. David explains that it is difficult for a country or nation to foster democracy and national sovereignty while also partaking in the expansion of a global economy. Both have their benefits and downsides. The people of the UK voted to return to a more democratic economy. Their government, however, is trying to figure out how that will look and be successfully carried out in a world that is becoming increasingly global.
Economic unions carry inevitable hardships
There is a lot of conflict within the EU because of the diversity of its members’ opinions and economic viewpoints. Even though free trade is what’s desired, there can’t ever truly be free trade. David says that, “there will always be conflicts and there’ll always be some form of tariffs. You will never get complete globalization and free trade because somebody’s going to get hurt.” Unfortunately, life doesn’t afford equal shares of green pasture and pie to every economic sector. What else can be gleaned from the Brexit dilemma? Listen to the entire episode to learn more!
- [0:32] Update on Brexit since the British Parliament Vote.
- [1:20] Basic Principles of Brexit.
- [3:58] The problem of the Irish border.
- [10:35] Debate over the withdrawal agreement leads to the current refusal of the deal.
- [12:49] Brexit Lesson One: long-held agreements are hard to break.
- [15:08] Brexit Lesson Two: choosing government sovereignty or globalization
- [22:08] Economic Unions will always be fraught with conflict.