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Brexit: The Plunge into Uncertainty

June 24, 2016 - by Oliver Schmidtke, director of the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria

The decision of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union is one of those stunning turns in history that leave observers in a state of disbelief. The chock that was palpable in commentators' first reactions to the Brexit decision reflects how challenging it is to come to terms with this new reality. First, leading up to the referendum the consensus among the chattering class was that a vote in favor of Brexit could be avoided by a last minute surge in support for the Remain Campaign (in particular after the murder of Jo Cox last week). Watching the BBC live coverage of the referendum it quickly became apparent how the political elite, the business community and the media had misread the political pulse of the country. Second, as a commentator one feels almost overwhelmed trying to grasp the enormous implications of the Brexit vote in the UK, in Europe and even globally.

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June 24, 2016 - by George Ross, ad personam Chaire Jean Monnet, Université de Montréal

The Brexit moment has been discussed at length. We can be brief, therefore, in asking a few pertinent questions.

What is its history?  The UK has never been enamoured of European integration.  It refused to join the European Coal and Steel  Community in 1951 and tried to sabotage the EEC around the Treaty of Rome by promoting EFTA. 1957. When the UK did finally applied to join the EEC in 1961, its entry was vetoed twice by French President de Gaulle for being insufficiently “European” (i.e. too economically liberal and tied to closely to US foreign policies). Finally admitted in 1973, internal political opposition led to a first referendum in 1975 and the decision to stay. Since then  British participation has been grumpy with complaints  about paying too much to the EU budget, about the Single Market’s regulations and social policies, about much of the 1991 Maastricht Treaty, leading to opt-outs of EMU, Schengen, and most legislation under the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice. The grumpiness continued  and helped provoke the referendum.

The Brexit Referendum, Why Now? 

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