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Brexit, one year on


One year ago today, Britain made the fateful decision to withdraw it’s membership from the European Union. The Remain campaign told the British public it would be economic suicide to leave whilst the Leave campaign assured an independent Britain would be stronger. So just one year later, where does Britain stand?

The analysis of post-Brexit Britain is perhaps as plagued with political bias as the campaigns of the Remain and Leave teams and as divisive as the original result of the referendum in which the Leave campaign procured 51.9% of the British vote.

Whilst some point to economic instability, others point to growth. Some point to British sovereignty and freedom from the bureaucratic EU as a benefit; Nigel Farage, then leader of the UK Independence Party, told a triumphant crowd in the early hours of June 24th 2016 that the referendum would “go down in history as [Britain’s] Independence Day.” But as with many episodes of independence throughout history, the government underwent change and proceeded to follow a course of uncertainty and instability despite the rhetoric of “strong and stable leadership” heralded by Theresa May.


The fact a Conservative majority has, in the space of a year, been transformed into a minority government reliant on the votes of 10 Northern Irish MPs days before Brexit negotiations were due to begin is a telling sign of a shifting tide in British politics.

So how does Britain currently stand? The answer seems obvious: divided.

Whilst it is easy to become immersed in debates regarding the effects of Brexit the fact is arguments will deal with speculation and predictions – until negotiations are well underway neither school of thought will be armed with facts. Instead it is key to assess changing attitudes.

After Brexit, Britain became more political. Not only was political turnout for the 2017 General Election at its highest since 1997 but the demographics of the electorate changed. 18-24 year olds learnt from the horror stories of Brexit in which just 43% of the age group voted (yet were quick to wrongly accuse older generations for selling out their generation). Fast forward one year and some estimates point to a 64% turnout of this age group in the GE.

With the Conservative majority unhinged by a surge in young voters for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, many have accused the leader of winning of the youth with populist, and frankly unrealistic, promises such as free university education. Yet are these promises anymore populist than those of the Leave campaign who pledged £350 million to the NHS if Britain were to withdraw its membership from the EU and promised to curb immigration – both of which have since been withdrawn, reversed or proven false?

Does this suggest a generation gap has emerged amongst the British electorate? Time will tell.

The inability of the General Election to elect a stable government reflects on the divide in which Britain is currently tangled – things still remain as unclear and uncertain as they did a year ago. With whispers of another General Election before Christmas, this sense of divide born out of Brexit is only likely to strengthen.


Jack Street