“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”-Margaret Thatcher
After repeated attempts and with three Prime Ministers over time made sure that the above said quote by Margaret Thatcher, saw the light of day on 24th December 2020 when the European Union and United Kingdom officially signed a deal, ensuring Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Let us first understand the reasons of Britain desperately wanting to detach itself from the policies, programs and the membership of the European Union. The very first reason stood at the economic front, where a large amount of money was being transferred to the European Union on an annual basis as its contribution to the European budget, following the economic front came the security front with respect to the rising rates of crime and extremism. Secondly, after the spread of riots, demonstrations and protests in the Middle East and North Africa, which opened the gates for waves of immigrants coming to EU nation for taking refuge. Further, Angela Merkel’s leniency towards Germany’s refugee welcoming status violated a number of EU regulations. Thirdly, the austere nature of the economic policies introduced initiated by the European Union not just troubled nations like Greece and Italy, but also proved to be a shadow for Britain, which still faces the setback of the 2008 recession.
The voice for Brexit gained volume in 2010, when the conservative party in 2010 won and the then Prime Minister David Cameroon promised for a referendum regarding the relationship of EU with Britain. The referendum then happened on 23rd June 2016, where 52% of the Britishers deciding to leave EU. Surprisingly, Cameroon decided to step down and then Theresa May was appointed as the Prime Minister, who then triggered the Article 50 of the Treaty of European Union (TEU), which is the formal EU divorce notice on March 2017, setting the exit date of March, 2019. After a series of push and pull measures, May suffered a serious backlash when the British lawmakers rejected her deal with a vote count of 432-202, thus causing a delay to the exit date and Theresa May resigning from the post of the Prime Minister. After May’s resignation, Boris Johnson took the wheel of the ship, becoming the next Prime Minister of UK.
Johnson had a rough start which consisted of the suspension of the Parliament, which was then declared as unlawful by the Supreme Court of UK. In an attempt to have a smoother deal, Johnson abandoned all his attempts to act in a hasty fashion and decided to take things calmly. Johnson soon approached the Irish PM, Leo Varadkar, for taking into accounts the changes he deems fit for the current deal. After the deal was ready, Johnson decided to take a shot in the dark by calling for snap elections in order to garner majority for the acceptance of the deal. Much to the surprise of the world, Johnson’s party won a majority of 80 seats which then turned out to be the highest number of seats won by the Conservative Party since the 1987 elections. Thus, these measures by Johnson led to Britain finally signing the historic Brexit deal with the EU on 24th December, 2020.
Now we have to understand that what the future holds for Great Britain, EU and India. While we talk about the current deal, the deal has been made in such a manner that it strikes a balance protects the interests of both the parties, ensures fair competition and provides measure for the prosperity of the fishing community. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Deal has essentially been bifurcated into three parts: A free trade agreement, citizens’ security and the horizontal agreement on governance. If we look at the three bifurcations, we would find ourselves right back at the paragraph where the UK had contentions regarding the three sectors. And this deal is supposed to solve the contentions of the UK without hampering the relationship with the European Union. However, there exists a point of contention here. With this particular deal, there would be creation of independent market spaces at both the places, which will then mark an end to the free-trade and cross mobility across the EU nations and UK.
Now coming to the Indian context. The Indo-UK relationship is crucial at the economic front majorly. Together, the UK and Europe account for over-a-quarter of the country’s IT exports, worth around $30billion. The UK is the third-largest source of foreign direct investment in India and India’s largest G20 investor. India is the third-largest source of FDI to the UK in terms of numbers of projects. India invests more in the UK than in the rest of Europe combined, emerging as the UK’s third-largest FDI investor. Therefore, presence of strong ties is a must, if India wishes to attract investment in agriculture, healthcare and other developing sectors. However, the other side of the coin also shows the negative impact of the Brexit deal. The most challenging situation would be for the Indian companies situated in the UK, as their earnings are going to face a hit, if at the Pound depreciates in its value. Secondly, which doesn’t seem to be a big threat, are the EXIM policies and trade deficit between the UK and India as the imports in UK would turn costlier due to the speculations of the depreciation of the Pound.
To conclude with, we must not forget that the deal is still in its naïve form. It is raw and it needs time to ripe with time. Also, we must not forget the fact that the future is unpredictable, but at the same time it is the present that controls the future. Therefore, I leave my readers with this question, “Was the deal really longer than Dunkirk, shorter than Queen’s rule?” or there is a completely different scenario that exists?
– Abeer Tiwari,
Writer, Bharat Bhagya Vidhata