How far is a nation willing to go to try to maintain a sense of sovereignty? This question came into the limelight five years ago with the Brexit referendum, which resulted in Britain voting to leave the EU, - the largest pan-national organization of the 20th century. The consequences of this choice have continued to impact Britain to this day.
Through this one decision Britain, as we had known it in the 20th century, has descended back down the same path it had previously walked in 1709 when The Great Frost devastated what was then a largely agricultural economy. Only this time it was worse. The question on every intellect’s mind was - Why would any government even propose backing out of such a lucrative partnership? For something as mundane as the want to project a false sense of sovereignty?
For many years Britishers believed that the EU was to blame for Britain’s sudden descent into poverty. Around the 2000s, Britain had been the envy of the world. By 2010 due to austerity measures which had resulted in a declining middle class, burdened working class, falling incomes and rising unemployment. The economic situation had made a turn for the worst. The people needed someone to blame and the Tory government in its quest to return to power, knowing the historical resentment towards the EU, guaranteed to hold a referendum (a key condition of the Lib-Dems who would not pledge their support to the ruling coalition otherwise) kicking off a chain of events that would forever alter the future of Britain in Europe.
So, what did Brexit bring about for Britain?
The post Brexit repercussions started with something economists refer to as a sudden stop. Trade with Europe witnessed a fall of around 80% - the worst ever seen in a first-world nation. This was followed by the drying up of exports of commodities such as cheese, bread, meat, fish due to new custom duties and taxes being enforced. The next industries to be affected were — hotels, restaurants, bars, as their suppliers and customers began to dry out. Then the biggest industries of Britain began to feel the pinch, finance and insurance firms took a hit as stock markets plunged, the Pound suffered as investor confidence took a severe hit.
The Federation of Small Businesses conducted a survey which put into numbers how bad the situation had gotten. It reported that in just three months 25% of businesses in Britain had stopped trading with Europe. Meaning a quarter of Britain’s small businesses had lost access to their biggest export market. The trade with Europe has become uneconomical and the remaining 75% of businesses that now struggle to sell their products in Europe will soon realise that the paperwork and taxes are just not worth it. The red-tapes, barriers, and backdoor arrangements with brokers to generate a meager income- are just not something they can afford to maintain for long.
Britain has voluntarily sent itself down a never-ending rabbit hole of problems and it’s still unclear where this path may eventually lead them - will they see a light at the end of this tunnel, or will it lead to more poverty? Only time will tell.