It’s been three years since the United Kingdom voted to divorce the European Union. But the breakup hasn’t happened yet. Why should Texans care about Brexit? The answer is that the U.S. and the UK remain very much interconnected.
Caroline Ritter, assistant professor of modern British history at Texas State University, says that when the referendum took place in June 2016, a lot of British voters did not know what would need to happen in order for Britain to leave the European Union.
“Over the years since then, it’s been the topic of debate within British Parliament,” Ritter says “especially over how much control Parliament would have over what the ‘deal or no deal’ would look like, how much of it would depend on what the other member states of the European Union were going to demand and if there was going to be a time for the British people to have another say or not in this outcome.”
This March, the UK missed a deadline to leave the EU. Since then, a new October 31 deadline has resulted in pressure for Parliament to work quickly on a deal that would set the terms for the separation.
“The October 31st deadline is the deadline for the UK to leave, even if they do not have a new trade deal in place,” Ritter says. “So that’s why suddenly you have some parts of the British Parliament who are saying ‘we absolutely need to leave this day no matter what’ and others saying ‘no, it’s still too soon because we have to have that written deal … so we know what the future will look like on November 1st.’”
Historians may look back on the Brexit vote as a watershed moment, highlighting a time when populism and anti-immigrantion sentiments were on the rise, not only in the United Kingdom, but the United States as well.
“The political sentiments that fueled the “leave” campaign in Britain in 2016 contained some strong anti-immigrant elements, anti-trade trade sentiments that were surging not just in the United Kingdom, but we’ve seen them surging in parts of the United States and in other parts of the world,” Ritter says.
Written by Antonio Cueto.