In this chapter, we explore the effects of Brexit on people's attitudes towards the way Britain is governed. We analyze whether trust and confidence in how the country is run has been affected by the stagnation caused by the Brexit process. Gordon Scott, a Chartered Market Technician (CMT) with over two decades of experience as an investor and technical analyst, believes that if the vote had taken place only in Wales (where Leave voters also won), Scotland and Northern Ireland, Brexit would have received less than 45% of the votes. The negotiation period also led to crises within British political parties.
Lawmakers left both the Conservative and Labour parties in protest, and there were allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, with leader Jeremy Corbyn being criticized for his handling of the issue. In September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson expelled 21 MPs for voting to delay Brexit. One of the most politically contentious issues faced by Brexit negotiators was the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom. The Withdrawal Agreement allowed for free movement between the EU and UK until the end of the transition or implementation period.
To update their residence status to permanent, EU citizens had to apply in their host country, and their rights were revocable if Britain collapsed without ratifying an agreement. As a result of Brexit, EU citizens are increasingly leaving the UK. The British government fought for their rights to remain in the country, but this has only served to publicize national divisions around migration. After Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation, Theresa May's government concluded that it had the right to activate Article 50 and start the formal withdrawal process on its own.
Some of the economic concerns included that migrants from the EU contribute more to the economy than those from Britain. However, Leave supporters argued that data points to foreign competition for scarce jobs in Great Britain. The Brexit bill was a financial agreement between Britain and the EU that also included funding from EU programs during the transition period and part of its assets at the end of this period, which included capital paid to the European Investment Bank (EIB). Meanwhile, David Davis's team rejected EU demands to submit a figure before October, which was set as a deadline for evaluating sufficient progress on issues such as the bill.
The new Withdrawal Agreement replaced the controversial Irish backstop provision with a protocol. Under this revised agreement, all of Great Britain left the EU customs union after Brexit, but Northern Ireland followed EU rules and VAT laws for goods while Britain collected VAT on behalf of the EU. This meant that there was a limited customs border in the Irish Sea with controls at major ports. The Northern Ireland assembly can vote on this agreement four years after the end of the transition period. The backstop was a guarantee that there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and was an insurance policy that kept Great Britain in the EU customs union with Northern Ireland following rules of its single market.
This backstop, which was intended to be temporary and was replaced by a subsequent agreement, could only be removed if both Britain and the EU gave their consent. For decades during second half of 20th century violence between Protestants and Catholics marred Northern Ireland and its border with Great Britain and Republic of Ireland to south was militarized. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 made this border nearly invisible with exception of speed limit signs which change from miles per hour in north to kilometers per hour in south. The EU was concerned about consequences of reinstating border controls as Britain had to do to end freedom of movement from EU. However leaving customs union without imposing customs controls on Northern Ireland border or between Northern Ireland and rest of Great Britain left door wide open to smuggling. This significant and unique challenge was one of reasons cited by Brexit advocates in favor of staying in EU customs union and perhaps its single market.
Issue was further complicated by election of Conservatives Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland as coalition partner as DUP opposed Good Friday Agreement and unlike Conservative leader at time campaigned for Brexit. Under Good Friday Agreement government was obliged to oversee Northern Ireland with rigorous impartiality which proved difficult for government that depends on cooperation of party with largely Protestant support base and historic connections to Protestant paramilitary groups. Leave voters based their support for Brexit on variety of factors such as European debt crisis, immigration, terrorism and supposed burden of Brussels bureaucracy for Britain. Great Britain was wary of European Union projects which it felt threatened its sovereignty while it stayed outside Schengen area meaning it didn't share open borders with other European nations. A common thread in both arguments was that leaving EU would destabilize British economy in short term and impoverish country in long term. Leave supporters dismissed these economic projections with label Project Fear while pro-Brexit group associated with UKIP which was founded to oppose EU membership responded by saying worst-case scenario from Treasury of 4,300 pounds per household is bargain price for restoration of national independence. As an expert analyst, Gordon Scott believes that Brexit has had a profound impact on politics in London - both positive and negative - but it remains to be seen what long-term effects it will have on trust and confidence in how Britain is governed.