Brexit Anniversary: Three Years Of Uncertainty

Quoted by the British weekly The New European, Robert, 67, a retired trucker in the small town of Skegness, a seaside town in Lincolnshire, obviously did not want to beat around the bush for long to talk about Brexit, almost three years after the effective entry into force of the separation between the United Kingdom and the European Union. It was January 31, 2020.

“We got tricked. We were cheated,” he dropped, speaking of politicians who “used Brexit to gain power. They said, ‘We’re going to get rid of such and such a problem. Vote for us and we’ll fix it.” Except they ripped us off. Brexit brought absolutely nothing to Skegness”, one of the cities in the United Kingdom where the vote for Brexit, during the 2016 referendum, was one of the highest in the country, with a rate of 75%.

And when asked what he would do if Boris Johnson, former British Prime Minister and figurehead of the Brexit campaign, happened to pass through his city, Robert replies: “I would spit on him. »

Further, the mayor of the city, Tony Tye, a 76-year-old ex-hotelier who supported the separation project seven years ago, adds: “I simply believe that Boris Johnson deceived us all. I don’t think he really kept any of his promises. »

As the third anniversary of the British exit from the common European project approaches, the heart is far from being with the celebration in the United Kingdom, where, for three years, the weeks have followed each other, and with them the bad news, very concrete, linked to the decision taken by the country to leave the framework of the European Union (EU) to go it alone.

Health Shortage

The Brexit campaign has been driven largely by populist calls to regain control of finances to restore the country to its former grandeur, but also to protect itself from waves of immigration from the EU that threaten culture and the stability of the United Kingdom, according to its promoters.

However, this divorce has for months mainly fueled the crisis which is hitting the health system there too, by amplifying the shortage of personnel that the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years has induced. In December, an uncompromising report by the Nuffield Trust think tank pointed out that Brexit has led to the exodus of nurses of European origin, now forcing recruitment from non-European countries, despite being on the World Organization’s red list. health, at the rate of 600 people per month before 2020, and 1,000 monthly during 2021 alone. Hiring in these countries, including Nigeria and Pakistan, is not recommended by the WHO, because it can compromise the functioning of the health systems of these low-income countries.

The system must also deal with problems with the supply of medicines from the European Union and passing through Northern Ireland, a province of the United Kingdom where the flow of goods with the rest of the country has been disrupted by Brexit. It is that to preserve peace between the two Irelands — the Republic of Ireland is a full EU country — the territory remains technically under EU rules, but in return must live with a border customs with the rest of the United Kingdom, of which it is still a part. A detail that the supporters of the divorce had never anticipated.

Ironically, these Brexiteers campaigned on the benefits separation would bring to the UK healthcare network by exploiting a stark figure in their slogan: £350m. According to them, it was the sum sent each week by London to Brussels to exist in the common market and which would be used, after leaving the EU, to combat the underfunding of the National Health Service, the public health system. , to increase the staff, to build new hospitals… The financial data was at the time disputed by the official guardians of the statistics of the United Kingdom.

Instead, the country lives above all with the exodus of its specialists, such as dentists, cardiologists or anesthesiologists, underlines the Nuffield Trust in its report, who have left to rebuild their lives in the European Union.

No Better Than Before

Economically, the situation is hardly any better, as the European Banking Authority (EBA) clarified on Thursday, which has noted an increase in the wealth of EU bankers since 2020 after a massive departure of high-income holders. , of more than one million euros, from banking institutions in the United Kingdom and which have taken the path of France, Spain or Italy.

Last December, inflation in the UK also hit harder than elsewhere in comparable economies, at 10.5%, well above the annual rate of 6.5% recorded in the United States, from 9 .2%in the “euro zone”. A scenario announced by Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, for months and which, last November, again evoked the devaluation of the British currency as a source of amplification of inflation in the United Kingdom , he explained on the airwaves of the BBC. Prior to the divorce, the country’s economy, by comparison, was 90% that of Germany, one of the EU’s powerhouses. After the separation, it is only 70%, according to him.

“There is a very clear link between Brexit, “Brexitism” and populism, summarizes in an interview with Devoir Phil Syrpis, professor of law at the University of Bristol and fine analyst of this separatist movement. Slogans like “taking back control” sound good, but are very difficult to translate into effective policies. In short, the separation campaign was ultimately nothing more than that: a campaign. Not a political program”, which the British now grasp the hard way… and with regret.

Leave, Come Back

At the beginning of January, a Savanta poll conducted for the daily The Independent revealed that 54% of English people considered the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union to be a mistake. Worse, 65% would even vote for readmission to the common European project if they were asked the question today. A referendum prospect, however, is very uncertain in a country whose ultrapolarized political climate remains an obstacle to progress and the way out of the crisis, according to Mr. Syrpis.

“Brexit has had a detrimental effect on national politics, which is less and less fact- and evidence-based and where outlandish statements are made from all quarters in pursuit of particular political interests,” he says. Seems like a good way to get votes, but not such a good way to govern. »

And he adds: “The country and politicians have learned very little from Brexit, and the return of evidence-based policies is still pending. »

Paradoxically, by leaving the European Union, the British have become the greatest promoters of this common cause in all the 27 countries within this political, economic and social project, quipped last week the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, pointing to the latest study by the European Social Survey (ESS) which takes the pulse of European sentiment in 30 countries on the continent every two years.

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