Brexit is the political movement in England to split from the European Union, which is an economic and political conciliation. In June of 2016, a vote was held about whether or not the country should remain or disassociate from the European Union. By a slim majority, the movement passed and England voted to leave. However, England would not formally exit until early 2020. This move to leave the European Union has been classified by some “as the biggest overnight change in modern commercial relations between countries”. The Brexit movement was an important early influential piece in the the rise of the right wing populism throughout Europe and the rest of the world that has taken place recently. Populism is best defined as a political movement that claims to champion or represent the common person. The affects and aftermath of this movement are seen today and brought about problems that England’s democracy faces as indicators of democratic erosion.
One of the reasons cited for the exit from the European Union is a theme that continues to be adopted by populist movements. This is the idea of putting one’s own country and people people first. A problem with this is the assumption that the country has disregarded and does not care about its people, an inflammatory assertion especially if the claim is backed. People who supported Brexit tend to agree with this sentiment, more specifically as it relates to immigration and nationalism. The European Union pushes taking immigrants in classifying it as a moral matter. On the contrary, supporters of Brexit believe they should take care of their people first before taking in those of other countries. Moreover, another aspect some disagree with the European Union pushing immigration by asserting that a strong national identity is important. Voters also believed that the movement was anti-elitist. This is a factor seen in other populist movements of recent such as 2016 with the rise of Trump in America and other examples. The ironic part about this is that in most countries, traditionally, the right wing represents the more well off individuals while the left tends to be the party of the less fortunate. This does not mean that the platform of a right wing populist movement cannot be backed by real problems, it is just interesting if the typical political make up of different party demographics holds true.
Since the implementation of England leaving the European Union about a year ago, some of the changes predicted by critics are starting to take place. In regards to immigration, England has disrupted the movement and flow of workers moving in. This is because the restrictions imposed resulted in fewer immigrants being able to move relatively freely throughout the region. England’s tightening of borders as a result of leaving the European Union also has served to hurt the country’s economy in relation to trade. The GDP of England dropped 1.4 percent in the first hundred days after Brexit was implemented, and it is expected to drop by around four percent over the next few years. This trade deficit on top of the lack of a labor force has brought about undeniable economic problems. It is also important to consider that all of these effects of Brexit have happened only over the last year. The problems that England faces will continue over the coming years and will be exemplified once the covid pandemic subsides.
Populist movements like this also serve to polarize voters. The United Kingdom has become even more fragmented and polarized than it already was due to Brexit. Voters in both Ireland and Scotland voted in higher numbers than those in Wales and England to remain in the European Union. This difference is seen in the political sphere of the UK. For example, Northern Ireland remains loyal to the European Union’s protocol. Regional differences in voting habits are expected, but this clear pattern of not seeing eye-to-eye is likely to be problematic moving forward. Polarization seen here is one of the precursors to Democratic Erosion and is a sign of an unhealthy democracy.
Although the effects of Brexit have notable negative aspects internally for England, it is important to consider the argument from its supporters that it has not all been bad. The basis for the argument put forth by proponents of Brexit is that economically, staying in the European Union does not inherently affect the country to the extent that some claimed it would. This thought process makes logical sense because London is such an important economic hub that leaving the European Union would not affect much. The problem with this argument is that trade problems have been detected in England since the implementation of Brexit. The trade difficulties and the labor force problems which have resulted in economic trouble cannot be denied. Brexit supporters claim that it is possible that some of this is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This argument is compelling, and Brexit certainly has been overshadowed by the pandemic. However, there is no doubt that some portion of the economic problems England is facing are a result of Brexit. The problems with work force and trade are not seen at as high a level in other countries that are facing the same pandemic. Making immigration less free definitively affects the number of workers coming in the country to some extent, and the same is true in regards to trade. Although Brexit did not hurt the country as much as many critics believed, the problems it has brought cannot be denied.