Has Brexit been a national humiliation for Britain? In a recent opinion poll, nine out of ten Britons said they believed the UK’s handling of Brexit has brought shame to the nation, with over a third blaming the UK government.
It’s safe to say the ride has been a bumpy one. Originally, the UK was due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. That date has now officially been pushed back at least two weeks to 12 April, with the possibility that the divorce may be delayed even further (in theory even until after the upcoming European Parliament elections). What should Europeans make of it?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Jurre, who believes the whole Brexit experience has been so humiliating for Britain that it will discourage other countries from leaving the European Union. Is he right?
To get a response, we put Jurre’s comment to Jonathan Bullock, an MEP with the Brexit Party (and formerly a UKIP MEP). He pointed out that Brexit isn’t over yet, so we shouldn’t be too quick to pass judgment:
Well, we haven’t actually left the EU yet. There’s a process going on of disentangling Britain from the EU, so we won’t know how Britain stands outside the EU until we’ve actually left. This is merely the process of uncoupling ourselves.
Now, the British government have made [the Brexit process] far more difficult than it should be, so I think other countries would see that – that there’s different ways of doing it and that this has been very poorly handled by the British Prime Minister. But until we’re actually out of the EU you won’t see the benefits. Once we’re outside, people will see the benefits of Britain being outside the EU as a positive.
To get a different perspective, we also put Jurre’s comment to Francis Jacobs, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at University College Dublin and former Head of the European Parliament’s Information Office in Ireland between 2006 and 2016. What would he say to the same comment?
[…] I think the longer this has gone on, the more it has reinforced the trend in other EU Member States to see such [EU membership] referendums as very dangerous things, and that trying to leave the EU is by no means a simple process. There is a mechanism for leaving: Article 50, as we know, brought in by the Treaty of Lisbon in formal terms, but in practice unravelling yourself from the EU is very complex. That’s one thing that people have learned.
I think the second thing is the impact on the UK itself. Obviously, people in other EU countries saw firstly that the four component parts of the United Kingdom voted in different ways, with two voting to leave and two to remain. Then, it’s been incredibly divisive across British society in general. And you can see now that almost Left-Right divisions have been replaced by Remain-Leave divisions. It’s absolutely been a polarising thing in the UK, and I think that’s been a lesson for many other EU countries.
And the recent developments over the last few weeks have brought it home even more graphically… The UK is seen not as a laughing stock, but it is seen with great pity. There’s been almost universal regret across the EU at the UK leaving; partly because it weakens the EU itself, but also most people in most other EU countries, and almost all the governments, had felt that the UK, in spite of its Euroscepticism, had made a very big contribution to the EU and still had a lot to offer into the future……
Will Brexit discourage other EU countries from leaving? Has Brexit been a national humiliation for Britain? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!