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Episode
205

Brexit: Part 3

Oct 26, 2021
Politics
-
25
minutes
Politics
UK politics
European history
Great Britain
Life in the UK

In the final part of our three-part mini-series on Brexit, we look at what has happened since the UK referendum on EU membership on June 23rd, 2016.

Brexit cost the political careers of two prime ministers and has caused arguments up and down the country.

In this episode, we'll ask ourselves whether it was actually all worth it in the end.

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is part 3 of our three part series on Brexit.

[00:00:28] In Part One we looked at the history of relations between Britain and Europe, from the Romans invading in 55BC right up to the UK’s decision to break with the European Union, over 2,000 years later.

[00:00:44] Then in Part Two we looked at the vote itself, why the UK took the decision to hold a referendum in the first place, how the campaigns were fought, who voted for and against Brexit, and for what reasons.

[00:00:59] And in today’s episode, Part Three and the final part of this mini-series, we are going to look at what has happened since June the 23rd 2016, the day that the UK voted to leave the European Union.

[00:01:14] We’ll tell the story of what happened immediately after the vote, the kind of Brexit that actually happened, how it was different from expectations and how it was the same, and have a think about what the long term consequences of Brexit might be.

[00:01:31] There is a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

[00:01:35] The vote to leave the European Union was a shock to the British establishment

[00:01:40] Very few people in positions of power expected the British population to have voted this way. 

[00:01:48] Indeed, it was the first time in British history that a referendum had ever gone against the preferences of the government. 

[00:01:57] In other words, the government only ever really offered a referendum when it was fairly sure it would go its way.

[00:02:05] As a result, there hadn’t been great thought or preparations on either side, in the Leave or Remain camps, for what would need to be done if the UK did vote for Brexit.

[00:02:18] There was no playbook for leaving the European Union; no country had ever done it before, and very few people in the UK thought it would actually happen.

[00:02:29] So the question was, the United Kingdom had voted to leave the EU, but how would it actually do this? 

[00:02:37] What kind of Brexit would there be?

[00:02:40] The media and politicians soon started using the terms “hard” and “soft” Brexit to describe the two options.

[00:02:49] A hard Brexit would be a clean break, cutting the country off from the European Union quickly and sharply

[00:02:58] It might be painful in the short term, but the British people had voted to leave, and leave they should do.

[00:03:06] A soft Brexit, on the other hand, would be gradual and gentle

[00:03:11] It would involve keeping many of the aspects of EU membership, and still being joined closely to the EU.

[00:03:19] To use the analogy of a relationship breakup, a hard Brexit would be like you slamming the door on your partner, throwing their clothes out of the window and changing the locks.

[00:03:31] A soft Brexit might be more like deciding that you were going to be friends, still meeting for coffee and going to the cinema together, but your relationship was now purely platonic.

[00:03:44] Of course, these are the two extremes, and so it was now the job of British politicians to firstly understand what kind of Brexit the people of Britain actually wanted, and secondly to try to negotiate this with their soon-to-be-ex colleagues in Europe.

[00:04:05] It’s here that we meet our first hurdle though, and you’ll see how Brexit proved to be a career-destroying and career-making event for many British politicians.

[00:04:18] The British Prime Minister at the time of the Brexit vote was David Cameron. 

[00:04:23] As we heard in the last episode, he was campaigning to Remain and he was the one who offered the referendum vote in the first place.

[00:04:33] After the people of Britain had voted against his side, he couldn’t stay, and he resigned a few hours after the result.

[00:04:42] A power struggle ensued in the Conservative party, and eventually the former Home Secretary, a lady called Theresa May was elected Prime Minister.

[00:04:54] In order to try to shore up support for her vision of Brexit, she called a general election in 2017, but it proved to be a terrible mistake. 

[00:05:06] The Conservatives lost their majority, and had to form a coalition with a party called the Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP, a party from Northern Ireland.

[00:05:20] Theresa May’s leadership was characterised by constant attempts to negotiate both with the EU and with her own party, but she failed to make any significant progress.

[00:05:33] She couldn’t agree to a Brexit deal that would pass the UK parliament.

[00:05:38] Ultimately, like her predecessor David Cameron, Brexit was to cost her her head, and she resigned in May of 2019.

[00:05:48] In the meantime, the de facto leader of the pro-Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, Boris Johnson, had been waiting for his opportunity.

[00:05:59] With his political enemies out of his way, his path was clear, and he was voted in as Prime Minister of the UK in July of 2019. 

[00:06:09] Like his predecessor Theresa May, he also called a general election to shore up the legitimacy to choose the type of Brexit it was to be. 

[00:06:20] But unlike Theresa May, he won, and secured the Conservatives a large majority.

[00:06:27] His campaign slogan was to “Get Brexit Done”, and this was a message that resonated strongly with a nation bored of the back and forth Brexit negotiations that had been taking three and a half years.

[00:06:44] So, by Christmas of 2019 Boris Johnson had a clear majority in Parliament, and the mandate to negotiate a Brexit on behalf of the British public, to “get Brexit done”.

[00:06:58] Now, unless you have a deep interest in British politics, this might not be so interesting to you, but the reason I’m sharing it is to underline how complicated these negotiations were, and how–although the UK had voted for Brexit–how unclear it was what type of Brexit this should be.

[00:07:20] After Johnson’s election victory, the Brexit final negotiations were relatively swift, but they went right up to the knife’s edge, with a final agreement only being reached on Christmas Eve of 2019, and the UK officially left the EU on the 31st of January 2020, with a deal that wasn’t as soft as the hardline Brexiteers feared, but not as hard as a complete no-deal situation.

[00:07:50] Next up it’s time to talk about the impact of Brexit, and we are going to look at six main areas: the economy, immigration, politics & laws, agriculture and British farming, foreign policy and finally The Union of the United Kingdom.

[00:08:09] So, to start with, the economy.

[00:08:12] Before Brexit, the predictions from business leaders, economists and politicians were pretty dire

[00:08:19] If the UK voted for Brexit, they said, it would make the country poorer.

[00:08:25] The Treasury had even put a number on it - £4,200 per year.

[00:08:32] There were fears about food shortages, a collapse in the value of the pound, goods and services becoming more expensive and a lot of economic suffering.

[00:08:43] The main reason being that the EU was the UK’s largest trading partner. Being in the EU means you benefit from the global agreements that the EU has in place with non-EU countries and you benefit from easier trade with other EU members. 

[00:09:00] Leaving the EU, especially in a hard Brexit scenario where the UK would leave the Customs Union would mean giving this up with the hope that the UK would be able to strike more advantageous trade deals with countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan.

[00:09:19] In the short term, directly after the vote, the economic consequences looked pretty grim, pretty bad.

[00:09:27] The morning after Brexit global stock markets lost $2 trillion of value, and the value of the pound against the dollar fell to a 31-year-low. 

[00:09:40] Suddenly British holidays abroad weren’t quite so great value, and conversely for Europeans, shopping in London became not quite so expensive as it had been a few years before.

[00:09:53] However, within a few weeks the stock market had recovered, the UK hadn’t been plunged into a financial crisis, and things weren’t actually as apocalyptic as the fear mongers had said. 

[00:10:08] Yes, businesses would have to adapt, trade with Europe wouldn’t be as easy as before, but perhaps the country would do just fine.

[00:10:18] As the UK approached the withdrawal date, on 31st January 2020, there was something that nobody had factored in: a global pandemic.

[00:10:29] And when it comes to any assessment of the impact of Brexit, especially the economic impact, it is made a lot harder thanks to the impact of COVID.

[00:10:40] As you may have heard about, since the start of 2020 the UK has suffered food shortages, fuel shortages, worker shortages, and all round disruption to the economy. 

[00:10:53] Politicians have been debating the extent to which Brexit or COVID are responsible for this disruption, and there is a distinct lack of agreement. 

[00:11:04] Naturally to the proponents of Brexit, to those who supported leaving the EU, it is very convenient to blame the UK’s economic problems on COVID, not Brexit. 

[00:11:16] And to those looking to score political points against the Brexit-voting leadership of the UK, it is very convenient to blame Brexit.

[00:11:26] COVID certainly hasn’t made the situation any easier, but it would be hard to argue - indeed even the staunchest Brexiteer would struggle to claim that Brexit has delivered many tangible economic benefits so far. 

[00:11:42] Our second category to talk about, which is actually closely related to the first, is immigration.

[00:11:50] One of the main reasons that Brits had voted for Brexit was to control immigration from the EU. 

[00:11:57] The Brexit agreement certainly has made it harder for people from European countries to come and live in the UK. Now, European citizens are treated no differently to citizens from any other country, and there is now a points-based immigration system.

[00:12:14] Instead of any EU-citizen being able to come to live in the UK, each applicant is assessed individually, based on things like whether they have a job in the UK, the salary of that job, the type of job, and even their English language level.

[00:12:32] The idea behind this was to limit the arrival of low-skilled immigrants from the EU, and instead allow more space for more skilled immigrants from the rest of the world.

[00:12:44] As you might imagine, it has massively reduced the amount of immigration from the EU.

[00:12:51] In 2015, around 630,000 EU citizens came to live in the UK. In 2018, even before the points-based system came into place, this number had dropped to 418,000.

[00:13:08] Although there are significantly fewer EU immigrants, there is a large increase in non-EU immigrants, and in 2019, the last year for which statistics are readily available, there were more immigrants to the UK than at any time in history.

[00:13:26] So, for Brexit voters who believed Brexit would simply stop immigration to the UK, they may be surprised that there has been no reduction, the immigrants just come from different countries, and are generally required to be more skilled.

[00:13:43] Although this might sound good in practice, because it leads to a more skilled workforce with better paid jobs, Brits have found out that those EU workers who drove delivery trucks, worked in agriculture or hospitality and generally did lower-paid work that Brits weren’t so keen on doing were actually pretty useful to the country.

[00:14:07] Over the past few months the country has experienced a lack of people in low-paid work, which has resulted in fuel shortages, so petrol stations have no petrol, and food shortages in British supermarkets.

[00:14:22] The government is busy assuring the country that this is a teething issue, and is mainly the fault of COVID, but at the same time has been offering generous bonuses for EU citizens to return to the UK to do things like drive delivery trucks and work in food processing plants.

[00:14:43] Perhaps the government is right, that it will just be a teething issue, and leaving the EU will allow a new generation of highly-skilled immigrants to come to the UK, but in the short term it certainly seems that restricting EU immigration hasn’t delivered any tangible benefits to the people of Britain.

[00:15:03] Our third category to explore is relating to politics and laws in Britain.

[00:15:09] As you will remember from episode two, the restoration of sovereignty and control over UK laws was a major aspect of the Brexit campaign. 

[00:15:19] The Leave campaign had English Nationalism at its heart and played to a populist songbook or to populist themes, in particular, immigration. 

[00:15:31] The evolution of the ruling Conservative party under the influence of the current Prime Minister and leader of the Tories, Boris Johnson, has been to strengthen this English nationalist and populist side. 

[00:15:45] In the 2019 election, the Conservatives won new electoral seats in the North of England, seats which had not been won by their party for 50 years or more, and had traditionally been a stronghold of the Labour party. 

[00:16:00] In these areas people voted Tory for the first time because of the pledge to “Get Brexit Done”, and partly because they felt that the party that they had traditionally voted for, the Labour Party, could not be trusted as being sufficiently patriotic, especially when it came to Brexit.

[00:16:20] The result of all of this on Britain's political life so far has been to lead to a much more divisive, rougher politics with less respect for rules and promises; for example, it has taken a much more aggressive, a more hostile, approach to asylum seekers and it looks for opportunities to please its political base.

[00:16:45] Much like Donald Trump knew he could treat immigrants to the US with a certain disdain and it would please his political base, Boris Johnson and his Tory government have been increasingly hostile towards migrants to the UK, knowing full well that this behaviour resonates with many of their voters.

[00:17:06] Although the strength of the UK’s laws has restrained the Government from some of its greatest excesses, there are uncomfortable signs that the Government is prepared to challenge institutions which have historically been neutral or unbiased politically, such as the BBC and cultural institutions, such as museums.

[00:17:29] The fourth area has to do with the countryside and British farming. 

[00:17:34] This has had very little publicity, but will probably become more significant as people become more aware of its gradual impact on the land. 

[00:17:43] Leaving the EU means leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, otherwise known as the CAP. 

[00:17:50] Many blame that policy for the gradual environmental degradation of Britain's countryside, as the CAP’s subsidies encouraged productive agricultural production at all costs, with environmental support coming a very poor second. 

[00:18:07] Now freed of the CAP, there is an opportunity for a more enlightened policy to shape the British countryside in a way that leads to more sustainable farming, better biodiversity and the restoration of endangered local habitats. 

[00:18:24] I suspect that one reason why there has been so little publicity about this area, is because it is relatively uncontroversial and also because its effects will be so gradual and difficult to notice. 

[00:18:37] However, the changes may make one of the UK's most precious assets, its varied and attractive countryside yet more so and better appreciated by citizens and tourists alike. 

[00:18:51] Our penultimate element of exploration today will be Foreign Policy and Britain’s global standing.

[00:18:58] The phrase Global Britain was used a lot by the Brexit campaigners – without any real explanation of what it meant. 

[00:19:06] What is it? 

[00:19:07] A nostalgic desire to return to the imaginary former glory days of the empire? 

[00:19:14] Well, some indication of what is in the current government's mind was illustrated recently with the announcement by the USA, Australia and UK of an agreement to share technology for nuclear-powered submarines between the three nations. 

[00:19:31] The so-called AUKUS agreement between these three Anglophone countries means that Australia, which will gain nuclear-powered submarines through it, had to abandon or give up its submarine deal with France and to transfer the lucrative work to Britain. 

[00:19:48] Although President Macron protested in the strongest terms to the countries involved, especially the USA and Australia, the move was a reminder that the UK is not now bound to Europe in the way in which it was before. 

[00:20:03] The pull of fellow Commonwealth or, in the case of the USA, Anglophone countries will be at least as strong.

[00:20:11] Now, our final element to explore is relating to the United Kingdom itself, a collection of four unique countries joined together for mutual benefit.

[00:20:23] Without a doubt, Brexit has weakened the Union. 

[00:20:27] Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a significant margin– 62% [compared to England’s 48%]. 

[00:20:36] Brexit is powered by English nationalism and Boris Johnson continues to be a highly divisive – some would say toxic – figure for the Scots. 

[00:20:48] Although Scottish independence was meant to have been settled for a generation by the 2014 Independence vote, Brexit has changed the argument. 

[00:20:58] Scotland has reemerged with the Scottish National Party now dominant and calling for a second independence referendum.

[00:21:07] The situation in Northern Ireland is yet more dangerous and difficult.

[00:21:12] In the Brexit campaign, the complexities of Northern Ireland's situation simply were not considered

[00:21:19] If you aren’t familiar with these complexities, here’s a brief summary. 

[00:21:24] The Republic of Ireland, otherwise known as Ireland is in the EU. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and therefore now isn’t in the EU. 

[00:21:35] They share a border, and before the Brexit vote there was free movement between the two countries.

[00:21:42] The Northern Irish Protestants are passionately pro the Union with Britain, and many Catholics want to be part of the Republic of Ireland. 

[00:21:52] There were years of bloody violence between the two parties, and it was very important to avoid reinstituting a land border between the two countries.

[00:22:04] There is no hard border between the two, making a de-facto border between the United Kingdom and Europe in the Irish Sea, which many Northern Irish Unionists take as a betrayal by Britain.

[00:22:19] To state the obvious, Brexit is a huge complication to the Northern Irish situation, and there are genuine fears that this might lead to violence in Northern Ireland, and an eventual unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

[00:22:36] There are, of course, tens, hundreds, thousands of other implications of Brexit, and many important ones we haven’t had the chance to talk about today.

[00:22:47] British people living in Europe, for example, is an important subject that I know a lot about, as I am one of the 1.2 million British people living in the European Union.

[00:22:59] And there are the EU citizens living in the UK, like many of my friends, who are suddenly questioning their relationship with a country they had come to call home.

[00:23:10] Then there’s the scientific funding, the ERASMUS programme, the impact on British cultural life, the impact on English language schools in Europe, because it’s simply far harder for British people to come and work in Europe, fishing, sport, driving licenses, air travel, Gibraltar, Brexit is something that has affected almost every aspect of British life and many aspects of life in Europe.

[00:23:36] So, what will the long term consequences be? 

[00:23:40] As Zhou Enlai said, in fact about the Parisian student protests of 1968 instead of the French Revolution of 1789, perhaps it is still too early to tell.

[00:23:54] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the aftermath of Brexit, and with that comes the end of this mini-series.

[00:24:02] To state the obvious, it is a huge and complicated subject, and one we could talk for hours on end about. I hope at least that you’ve found this mini-series to be an interesting introduction to the past, present, and future of Brexit, and that it has given you a little insight into some of the peculiarities of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

[00:24:26] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of this mini-series. 

[00:24:31] The majority of our listeners come from EU countries, and no doubt you have an opinion, or perhaps questions about Brexit.

[00:24:39] So, let’s get this Brexit discussion started then.

[00:24:42] The place to go to for that is our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:49] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:55] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.



[END OF EPISODE]


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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is part 3 of our three part series on Brexit.

[00:00:28] In Part One we looked at the history of relations between Britain and Europe, from the Romans invading in 55BC right up to the UK’s decision to break with the European Union, over 2,000 years later.

[00:00:44] Then in Part Two we looked at the vote itself, why the UK took the decision to hold a referendum in the first place, how the campaigns were fought, who voted for and against Brexit, and for what reasons.

[00:00:59] And in today’s episode, Part Three and the final part of this mini-series, we are going to look at what has happened since June the 23rd 2016, the day that the UK voted to leave the European Union.

[00:01:14] We’ll tell the story of what happened immediately after the vote, the kind of Brexit that actually happened, how it was different from expectations and how it was the same, and have a think about what the long term consequences of Brexit might be.

[00:01:31] There is a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

[00:01:35] The vote to leave the European Union was a shock to the British establishment

[00:01:40] Very few people in positions of power expected the British population to have voted this way. 

[00:01:48] Indeed, it was the first time in British history that a referendum had ever gone against the preferences of the government. 

[00:01:57] In other words, the government only ever really offered a referendum when it was fairly sure it would go its way.

[00:02:05] As a result, there hadn’t been great thought or preparations on either side, in the Leave or Remain camps, for what would need to be done if the UK did vote for Brexit.

[00:02:18] There was no playbook for leaving the European Union; no country had ever done it before, and very few people in the UK thought it would actually happen.

[00:02:29] So the question was, the United Kingdom had voted to leave the EU, but how would it actually do this? 

[00:02:37] What kind of Brexit would there be?

[00:02:40] The media and politicians soon started using the terms “hard” and “soft” Brexit to describe the two options.

[00:02:49] A hard Brexit would be a clean break, cutting the country off from the European Union quickly and sharply

[00:02:58] It might be painful in the short term, but the British people had voted to leave, and leave they should do.

[00:03:06] A soft Brexit, on the other hand, would be gradual and gentle

[00:03:11] It would involve keeping many of the aspects of EU membership, and still being joined closely to the EU.

[00:03:19] To use the analogy of a relationship breakup, a hard Brexit would be like you slamming the door on your partner, throwing their clothes out of the window and changing the locks.

[00:03:31] A soft Brexit might be more like deciding that you were going to be friends, still meeting for coffee and going to the cinema together, but your relationship was now purely platonic.

[00:03:44] Of course, these are the two extremes, and so it was now the job of British politicians to firstly understand what kind of Brexit the people of Britain actually wanted, and secondly to try to negotiate this with their soon-to-be-ex colleagues in Europe.

[00:04:05] It’s here that we meet our first hurdle though, and you’ll see how Brexit proved to be a career-destroying and career-making event for many British politicians.

[00:04:18] The British Prime Minister at the time of the Brexit vote was David Cameron. 

[00:04:23] As we heard in the last episode, he was campaigning to Remain and he was the one who offered the referendum vote in the first place.

[00:04:33] After the people of Britain had voted against his side, he couldn’t stay, and he resigned a few hours after the result.

[00:04:42] A power struggle ensued in the Conservative party, and eventually the former Home Secretary, a lady called Theresa May was elected Prime Minister.

[00:04:54] In order to try to shore up support for her vision of Brexit, she called a general election in 2017, but it proved to be a terrible mistake. 

[00:05:06] The Conservatives lost their majority, and had to form a coalition with a party called the Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP, a party from Northern Ireland.

[00:05:20] Theresa May’s leadership was characterised by constant attempts to negotiate both with the EU and with her own party, but she failed to make any significant progress.

[00:05:33] She couldn’t agree to a Brexit deal that would pass the UK parliament.

[00:05:38] Ultimately, like her predecessor David Cameron, Brexit was to cost her her head, and she resigned in May of 2019.

[00:05:48] In the meantime, the de facto leader of the pro-Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, Boris Johnson, had been waiting for his opportunity.

[00:05:59] With his political enemies out of his way, his path was clear, and he was voted in as Prime Minister of the UK in July of 2019. 

[00:06:09] Like his predecessor Theresa May, he also called a general election to shore up the legitimacy to choose the type of Brexit it was to be. 

[00:06:20] But unlike Theresa May, he won, and secured the Conservatives a large majority.

[00:06:27] His campaign slogan was to “Get Brexit Done”, and this was a message that resonated strongly with a nation bored of the back and forth Brexit negotiations that had been taking three and a half years.

[00:06:44] So, by Christmas of 2019 Boris Johnson had a clear majority in Parliament, and the mandate to negotiate a Brexit on behalf of the British public, to “get Brexit done”.

[00:06:58] Now, unless you have a deep interest in British politics, this might not be so interesting to you, but the reason I’m sharing it is to underline how complicated these negotiations were, and how–although the UK had voted for Brexit–how unclear it was what type of Brexit this should be.

[00:07:20] After Johnson’s election victory, the Brexit final negotiations were relatively swift, but they went right up to the knife’s edge, with a final agreement only being reached on Christmas Eve of 2019, and the UK officially left the EU on the 31st of January 2020, with a deal that wasn’t as soft as the hardline Brexiteers feared, but not as hard as a complete no-deal situation.

[00:07:50] Next up it’s time to talk about the impact of Brexit, and we are going to look at six main areas: the economy, immigration, politics & laws, agriculture and British farming, foreign policy and finally The Union of the United Kingdom.

[00:08:09] So, to start with, the economy.

[00:08:12] Before Brexit, the predictions from business leaders, economists and politicians were pretty dire

[00:08:19] If the UK voted for Brexit, they said, it would make the country poorer.

[00:08:25] The Treasury had even put a number on it - £4,200 per year.

[00:08:32] There were fears about food shortages, a collapse in the value of the pound, goods and services becoming more expensive and a lot of economic suffering.

[00:08:43] The main reason being that the EU was the UK’s largest trading partner. Being in the EU means you benefit from the global agreements that the EU has in place with non-EU countries and you benefit from easier trade with other EU members. 

[00:09:00] Leaving the EU, especially in a hard Brexit scenario where the UK would leave the Customs Union would mean giving this up with the hope that the UK would be able to strike more advantageous trade deals with countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan.

[00:09:19] In the short term, directly after the vote, the economic consequences looked pretty grim, pretty bad.

[00:09:27] The morning after Brexit global stock markets lost $2 trillion of value, and the value of the pound against the dollar fell to a 31-year-low. 

[00:09:40] Suddenly British holidays abroad weren’t quite so great value, and conversely for Europeans, shopping in London became not quite so expensive as it had been a few years before.

[00:09:53] However, within a few weeks the stock market had recovered, the UK hadn’t been plunged into a financial crisis, and things weren’t actually as apocalyptic as the fear mongers had said. 

[00:10:08] Yes, businesses would have to adapt, trade with Europe wouldn’t be as easy as before, but perhaps the country would do just fine.

[00:10:18] As the UK approached the withdrawal date, on 31st January 2020, there was something that nobody had factored in: a global pandemic.

[00:10:29] And when it comes to any assessment of the impact of Brexit, especially the economic impact, it is made a lot harder thanks to the impact of COVID.

[00:10:40] As you may have heard about, since the start of 2020 the UK has suffered food shortages, fuel shortages, worker shortages, and all round disruption to the economy. 

[00:10:53] Politicians have been debating the extent to which Brexit or COVID are responsible for this disruption, and there is a distinct lack of agreement. 

[00:11:04] Naturally to the proponents of Brexit, to those who supported leaving the EU, it is very convenient to blame the UK’s economic problems on COVID, not Brexit. 

[00:11:16] And to those looking to score political points against the Brexit-voting leadership of the UK, it is very convenient to blame Brexit.

[00:11:26] COVID certainly hasn’t made the situation any easier, but it would be hard to argue - indeed even the staunchest Brexiteer would struggle to claim that Brexit has delivered many tangible economic benefits so far. 

[00:11:42] Our second category to talk about, which is actually closely related to the first, is immigration.

[00:11:50] One of the main reasons that Brits had voted for Brexit was to control immigration from the EU. 

[00:11:57] The Brexit agreement certainly has made it harder for people from European countries to come and live in the UK. Now, European citizens are treated no differently to citizens from any other country, and there is now a points-based immigration system.

[00:12:14] Instead of any EU-citizen being able to come to live in the UK, each applicant is assessed individually, based on things like whether they have a job in the UK, the salary of that job, the type of job, and even their English language level.

[00:12:32] The idea behind this was to limit the arrival of low-skilled immigrants from the EU, and instead allow more space for more skilled immigrants from the rest of the world.

[00:12:44] As you might imagine, it has massively reduced the amount of immigration from the EU.

[00:12:51] In 2015, around 630,000 EU citizens came to live in the UK. In 2018, even before the points-based system came into place, this number had dropped to 418,000.

[00:13:08] Although there are significantly fewer EU immigrants, there is a large increase in non-EU immigrants, and in 2019, the last year for which statistics are readily available, there were more immigrants to the UK than at any time in history.

[00:13:26] So, for Brexit voters who believed Brexit would simply stop immigration to the UK, they may be surprised that there has been no reduction, the immigrants just come from different countries, and are generally required to be more skilled.

[00:13:43] Although this might sound good in practice, because it leads to a more skilled workforce with better paid jobs, Brits have found out that those EU workers who drove delivery trucks, worked in agriculture or hospitality and generally did lower-paid work that Brits weren’t so keen on doing were actually pretty useful to the country.

[00:14:07] Over the past few months the country has experienced a lack of people in low-paid work, which has resulted in fuel shortages, so petrol stations have no petrol, and food shortages in British supermarkets.

[00:14:22] The government is busy assuring the country that this is a teething issue, and is mainly the fault of COVID, but at the same time has been offering generous bonuses for EU citizens to return to the UK to do things like drive delivery trucks and work in food processing plants.

[00:14:43] Perhaps the government is right, that it will just be a teething issue, and leaving the EU will allow a new generation of highly-skilled immigrants to come to the UK, but in the short term it certainly seems that restricting EU immigration hasn’t delivered any tangible benefits to the people of Britain.

[00:15:03] Our third category to explore is relating to politics and laws in Britain.

[00:15:09] As you will remember from episode two, the restoration of sovereignty and control over UK laws was a major aspect of the Brexit campaign. 

[00:15:19] The Leave campaign had English Nationalism at its heart and played to a populist songbook or to populist themes, in particular, immigration. 

[00:15:31] The evolution of the ruling Conservative party under the influence of the current Prime Minister and leader of the Tories, Boris Johnson, has been to strengthen this English nationalist and populist side. 

[00:15:45] In the 2019 election, the Conservatives won new electoral seats in the North of England, seats which had not been won by their party for 50 years or more, and had traditionally been a stronghold of the Labour party. 

[00:16:00] In these areas people voted Tory for the first time because of the pledge to “Get Brexit Done”, and partly because they felt that the party that they had traditionally voted for, the Labour Party, could not be trusted as being sufficiently patriotic, especially when it came to Brexit.

[00:16:20] The result of all of this on Britain's political life so far has been to lead to a much more divisive, rougher politics with less respect for rules and promises; for example, it has taken a much more aggressive, a more hostile, approach to asylum seekers and it looks for opportunities to please its political base.

[00:16:45] Much like Donald Trump knew he could treat immigrants to the US with a certain disdain and it would please his political base, Boris Johnson and his Tory government have been increasingly hostile towards migrants to the UK, knowing full well that this behaviour resonates with many of their voters.

[00:17:06] Although the strength of the UK’s laws has restrained the Government from some of its greatest excesses, there are uncomfortable signs that the Government is prepared to challenge institutions which have historically been neutral or unbiased politically, such as the BBC and cultural institutions, such as museums.

[00:17:29] The fourth area has to do with the countryside and British farming. 

[00:17:34] This has had very little publicity, but will probably become more significant as people become more aware of its gradual impact on the land. 

[00:17:43] Leaving the EU means leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, otherwise known as the CAP. 

[00:17:50] Many blame that policy for the gradual environmental degradation of Britain's countryside, as the CAP’s subsidies encouraged productive agricultural production at all costs, with environmental support coming a very poor second. 

[00:18:07] Now freed of the CAP, there is an opportunity for a more enlightened policy to shape the British countryside in a way that leads to more sustainable farming, better biodiversity and the restoration of endangered local habitats. 

[00:18:24] I suspect that one reason why there has been so little publicity about this area, is because it is relatively uncontroversial and also because its effects will be so gradual and difficult to notice. 

[00:18:37] However, the changes may make one of the UK's most precious assets, its varied and attractive countryside yet more so and better appreciated by citizens and tourists alike. 

[00:18:51] Our penultimate element of exploration today will be Foreign Policy and Britain’s global standing.

[00:18:58] The phrase Global Britain was used a lot by the Brexit campaigners – without any real explanation of what it meant. 

[00:19:06] What is it? 

[00:19:07] A nostalgic desire to return to the imaginary former glory days of the empire? 

[00:19:14] Well, some indication of what is in the current government's mind was illustrated recently with the announcement by the USA, Australia and UK of an agreement to share technology for nuclear-powered submarines between the three nations. 

[00:19:31] The so-called AUKUS agreement between these three Anglophone countries means that Australia, which will gain nuclear-powered submarines through it, had to abandon or give up its submarine deal with France and to transfer the lucrative work to Britain. 

[00:19:48] Although President Macron protested in the strongest terms to the countries involved, especially the USA and Australia, the move was a reminder that the UK is not now bound to Europe in the way in which it was before. 

[00:20:03] The pull of fellow Commonwealth or, in the case of the USA, Anglophone countries will be at least as strong.

[00:20:11] Now, our final element to explore is relating to the United Kingdom itself, a collection of four unique countries joined together for mutual benefit.

[00:20:23] Without a doubt, Brexit has weakened the Union. 

[00:20:27] Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a significant margin– 62% [compared to England’s 48%]. 

[00:20:36] Brexit is powered by English nationalism and Boris Johnson continues to be a highly divisive – some would say toxic – figure for the Scots. 

[00:20:48] Although Scottish independence was meant to have been settled for a generation by the 2014 Independence vote, Brexit has changed the argument. 

[00:20:58] Scotland has reemerged with the Scottish National Party now dominant and calling for a second independence referendum.

[00:21:07] The situation in Northern Ireland is yet more dangerous and difficult.

[00:21:12] In the Brexit campaign, the complexities of Northern Ireland's situation simply were not considered

[00:21:19] If you aren’t familiar with these complexities, here’s a brief summary. 

[00:21:24] The Republic of Ireland, otherwise known as Ireland is in the EU. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and therefore now isn’t in the EU. 

[00:21:35] They share a border, and before the Brexit vote there was free movement between the two countries.

[00:21:42] The Northern Irish Protestants are passionately pro the Union with Britain, and many Catholics want to be part of the Republic of Ireland. 

[00:21:52] There were years of bloody violence between the two parties, and it was very important to avoid reinstituting a land border between the two countries.

[00:22:04] There is no hard border between the two, making a de-facto border between the United Kingdom and Europe in the Irish Sea, which many Northern Irish Unionists take as a betrayal by Britain.

[00:22:19] To state the obvious, Brexit is a huge complication to the Northern Irish situation, and there are genuine fears that this might lead to violence in Northern Ireland, and an eventual unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

[00:22:36] There are, of course, tens, hundreds, thousands of other implications of Brexit, and many important ones we haven’t had the chance to talk about today.

[00:22:47] British people living in Europe, for example, is an important subject that I know a lot about, as I am one of the 1.2 million British people living in the European Union.

[00:22:59] And there are the EU citizens living in the UK, like many of my friends, who are suddenly questioning their relationship with a country they had come to call home.

[00:23:10] Then there’s the scientific funding, the ERASMUS programme, the impact on British cultural life, the impact on English language schools in Europe, because it’s simply far harder for British people to come and work in Europe, fishing, sport, driving licenses, air travel, Gibraltar, Brexit is something that has affected almost every aspect of British life and many aspects of life in Europe.

[00:23:36] So, what will the long term consequences be? 

[00:23:40] As Zhou Enlai said, in fact about the Parisian student protests of 1968 instead of the French Revolution of 1789, perhaps it is still too early to tell.

[00:23:54] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the aftermath of Brexit, and with that comes the end of this mini-series.

[00:24:02] To state the obvious, it is a huge and complicated subject, and one we could talk for hours on end about. I hope at least that you’ve found this mini-series to be an interesting introduction to the past, present, and future of Brexit, and that it has given you a little insight into some of the peculiarities of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

[00:24:26] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of this mini-series. 

[00:24:31] The majority of our listeners come from EU countries, and no doubt you have an opinion, or perhaps questions about Brexit.

[00:24:39] So, let’s get this Brexit discussion started then.

[00:24:42] The place to go to for that is our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:49] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:55] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.



[END OF EPISODE]


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is part 3 of our three part series on Brexit.

[00:00:28] In Part One we looked at the history of relations between Britain and Europe, from the Romans invading in 55BC right up to the UK’s decision to break with the European Union, over 2,000 years later.

[00:00:44] Then in Part Two we looked at the vote itself, why the UK took the decision to hold a referendum in the first place, how the campaigns were fought, who voted for and against Brexit, and for what reasons.

[00:00:59] And in today’s episode, Part Three and the final part of this mini-series, we are going to look at what has happened since June the 23rd 2016, the day that the UK voted to leave the European Union.

[00:01:14] We’ll tell the story of what happened immediately after the vote, the kind of Brexit that actually happened, how it was different from expectations and how it was the same, and have a think about what the long term consequences of Brexit might be.

[00:01:31] There is a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

[00:01:35] The vote to leave the European Union was a shock to the British establishment

[00:01:40] Very few people in positions of power expected the British population to have voted this way. 

[00:01:48] Indeed, it was the first time in British history that a referendum had ever gone against the preferences of the government. 

[00:01:57] In other words, the government only ever really offered a referendum when it was fairly sure it would go its way.

[00:02:05] As a result, there hadn’t been great thought or preparations on either side, in the Leave or Remain camps, for what would need to be done if the UK did vote for Brexit.

[00:02:18] There was no playbook for leaving the European Union; no country had ever done it before, and very few people in the UK thought it would actually happen.

[00:02:29] So the question was, the United Kingdom had voted to leave the EU, but how would it actually do this? 

[00:02:37] What kind of Brexit would there be?

[00:02:40] The media and politicians soon started using the terms “hard” and “soft” Brexit to describe the two options.

[00:02:49] A hard Brexit would be a clean break, cutting the country off from the European Union quickly and sharply

[00:02:58] It might be painful in the short term, but the British people had voted to leave, and leave they should do.

[00:03:06] A soft Brexit, on the other hand, would be gradual and gentle

[00:03:11] It would involve keeping many of the aspects of EU membership, and still being joined closely to the EU.

[00:03:19] To use the analogy of a relationship breakup, a hard Brexit would be like you slamming the door on your partner, throwing their clothes out of the window and changing the locks.

[00:03:31] A soft Brexit might be more like deciding that you were going to be friends, still meeting for coffee and going to the cinema together, but your relationship was now purely platonic.

[00:03:44] Of course, these are the two extremes, and so it was now the job of British politicians to firstly understand what kind of Brexit the people of Britain actually wanted, and secondly to try to negotiate this with their soon-to-be-ex colleagues in Europe.

[00:04:05] It’s here that we meet our first hurdle though, and you’ll see how Brexit proved to be a career-destroying and career-making event for many British politicians.

[00:04:18] The British Prime Minister at the time of the Brexit vote was David Cameron. 

[00:04:23] As we heard in the last episode, he was campaigning to Remain and he was the one who offered the referendum vote in the first place.

[00:04:33] After the people of Britain had voted against his side, he couldn’t stay, and he resigned a few hours after the result.

[00:04:42] A power struggle ensued in the Conservative party, and eventually the former Home Secretary, a lady called Theresa May was elected Prime Minister.

[00:04:54] In order to try to shore up support for her vision of Brexit, she called a general election in 2017, but it proved to be a terrible mistake. 

[00:05:06] The Conservatives lost their majority, and had to form a coalition with a party called the Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP, a party from Northern Ireland.

[00:05:20] Theresa May’s leadership was characterised by constant attempts to negotiate both with the EU and with her own party, but she failed to make any significant progress.

[00:05:33] She couldn’t agree to a Brexit deal that would pass the UK parliament.

[00:05:38] Ultimately, like her predecessor David Cameron, Brexit was to cost her her head, and she resigned in May of 2019.

[00:05:48] In the meantime, the de facto leader of the pro-Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, Boris Johnson, had been waiting for his opportunity.

[00:05:59] With his political enemies out of his way, his path was clear, and he was voted in as Prime Minister of the UK in July of 2019. 

[00:06:09] Like his predecessor Theresa May, he also called a general election to shore up the legitimacy to choose the type of Brexit it was to be. 

[00:06:20] But unlike Theresa May, he won, and secured the Conservatives a large majority.

[00:06:27] His campaign slogan was to “Get Brexit Done”, and this was a message that resonated strongly with a nation bored of the back and forth Brexit negotiations that had been taking three and a half years.

[00:06:44] So, by Christmas of 2019 Boris Johnson had a clear majority in Parliament, and the mandate to negotiate a Brexit on behalf of the British public, to “get Brexit done”.

[00:06:58] Now, unless you have a deep interest in British politics, this might not be so interesting to you, but the reason I’m sharing it is to underline how complicated these negotiations were, and how–although the UK had voted for Brexit–how unclear it was what type of Brexit this should be.

[00:07:20] After Johnson’s election victory, the Brexit final negotiations were relatively swift, but they went right up to the knife’s edge, with a final agreement only being reached on Christmas Eve of 2019, and the UK officially left the EU on the 31st of January 2020, with a deal that wasn’t as soft as the hardline Brexiteers feared, but not as hard as a complete no-deal situation.

[00:07:50] Next up it’s time to talk about the impact of Brexit, and we are going to look at six main areas: the economy, immigration, politics & laws, agriculture and British farming, foreign policy and finally The Union of the United Kingdom.

[00:08:09] So, to start with, the economy.

[00:08:12] Before Brexit, the predictions from business leaders, economists and politicians were pretty dire

[00:08:19] If the UK voted for Brexit, they said, it would make the country poorer.

[00:08:25] The Treasury had even put a number on it - £4,200 per year.

[00:08:32] There were fears about food shortages, a collapse in the value of the pound, goods and services becoming more expensive and a lot of economic suffering.

[00:08:43] The main reason being that the EU was the UK’s largest trading partner. Being in the EU means you benefit from the global agreements that the EU has in place with non-EU countries and you benefit from easier trade with other EU members. 

[00:09:00] Leaving the EU, especially in a hard Brexit scenario where the UK would leave the Customs Union would mean giving this up with the hope that the UK would be able to strike more advantageous trade deals with countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan.

[00:09:19] In the short term, directly after the vote, the economic consequences looked pretty grim, pretty bad.

[00:09:27] The morning after Brexit global stock markets lost $2 trillion of value, and the value of the pound against the dollar fell to a 31-year-low. 

[00:09:40] Suddenly British holidays abroad weren’t quite so great value, and conversely for Europeans, shopping in London became not quite so expensive as it had been a few years before.

[00:09:53] However, within a few weeks the stock market had recovered, the UK hadn’t been plunged into a financial crisis, and things weren’t actually as apocalyptic as the fear mongers had said. 

[00:10:08] Yes, businesses would have to adapt, trade with Europe wouldn’t be as easy as before, but perhaps the country would do just fine.

[00:10:18] As the UK approached the withdrawal date, on 31st January 2020, there was something that nobody had factored in: a global pandemic.

[00:10:29] And when it comes to any assessment of the impact of Brexit, especially the economic impact, it is made a lot harder thanks to the impact of COVID.

[00:10:40] As you may have heard about, since the start of 2020 the UK has suffered food shortages, fuel shortages, worker shortages, and all round disruption to the economy. 

[00:10:53] Politicians have been debating the extent to which Brexit or COVID are responsible for this disruption, and there is a distinct lack of agreement. 

[00:11:04] Naturally to the proponents of Brexit, to those who supported leaving the EU, it is very convenient to blame the UK’s economic problems on COVID, not Brexit. 

[00:11:16] And to those looking to score political points against the Brexit-voting leadership of the UK, it is very convenient to blame Brexit.

[00:11:26] COVID certainly hasn’t made the situation any easier, but it would be hard to argue - indeed even the staunchest Brexiteer would struggle to claim that Brexit has delivered many tangible economic benefits so far. 

[00:11:42] Our second category to talk about, which is actually closely related to the first, is immigration.

[00:11:50] One of the main reasons that Brits had voted for Brexit was to control immigration from the EU. 

[00:11:57] The Brexit agreement certainly has made it harder for people from European countries to come and live in the UK. Now, European citizens are treated no differently to citizens from any other country, and there is now a points-based immigration system.

[00:12:14] Instead of any EU-citizen being able to come to live in the UK, each applicant is assessed individually, based on things like whether they have a job in the UK, the salary of that job, the type of job, and even their English language level.

[00:12:32] The idea behind this was to limit the arrival of low-skilled immigrants from the EU, and instead allow more space for more skilled immigrants from the rest of the world.

[00:12:44] As you might imagine, it has massively reduced the amount of immigration from the EU.

[00:12:51] In 2015, around 630,000 EU citizens came to live in the UK. In 2018, even before the points-based system came into place, this number had dropped to 418,000.

[00:13:08] Although there are significantly fewer EU immigrants, there is a large increase in non-EU immigrants, and in 2019, the last year for which statistics are readily available, there were more immigrants to the UK than at any time in history.

[00:13:26] So, for Brexit voters who believed Brexit would simply stop immigration to the UK, they may be surprised that there has been no reduction, the immigrants just come from different countries, and are generally required to be more skilled.

[00:13:43] Although this might sound good in practice, because it leads to a more skilled workforce with better paid jobs, Brits have found out that those EU workers who drove delivery trucks, worked in agriculture or hospitality and generally did lower-paid work that Brits weren’t so keen on doing were actually pretty useful to the country.

[00:14:07] Over the past few months the country has experienced a lack of people in low-paid work, which has resulted in fuel shortages, so petrol stations have no petrol, and food shortages in British supermarkets.

[00:14:22] The government is busy assuring the country that this is a teething issue, and is mainly the fault of COVID, but at the same time has been offering generous bonuses for EU citizens to return to the UK to do things like drive delivery trucks and work in food processing plants.

[00:14:43] Perhaps the government is right, that it will just be a teething issue, and leaving the EU will allow a new generation of highly-skilled immigrants to come to the UK, but in the short term it certainly seems that restricting EU immigration hasn’t delivered any tangible benefits to the people of Britain.

[00:15:03] Our third category to explore is relating to politics and laws in Britain.

[00:15:09] As you will remember from episode two, the restoration of sovereignty and control over UK laws was a major aspect of the Brexit campaign. 

[00:15:19] The Leave campaign had English Nationalism at its heart and played to a populist songbook or to populist themes, in particular, immigration. 

[00:15:31] The evolution of the ruling Conservative party under the influence of the current Prime Minister and leader of the Tories, Boris Johnson, has been to strengthen this English nationalist and populist side. 

[00:15:45] In the 2019 election, the Conservatives won new electoral seats in the North of England, seats which had not been won by their party for 50 years or more, and had traditionally been a stronghold of the Labour party. 

[00:16:00] In these areas people voted Tory for the first time because of the pledge to “Get Brexit Done”, and partly because they felt that the party that they had traditionally voted for, the Labour Party, could not be trusted as being sufficiently patriotic, especially when it came to Brexit.

[00:16:20] The result of all of this on Britain's political life so far has been to lead to a much more divisive, rougher politics with less respect for rules and promises; for example, it has taken a much more aggressive, a more hostile, approach to asylum seekers and it looks for opportunities to please its political base.

[00:16:45] Much like Donald Trump knew he could treat immigrants to the US with a certain disdain and it would please his political base, Boris Johnson and his Tory government have been increasingly hostile towards migrants to the UK, knowing full well that this behaviour resonates with many of their voters.

[00:17:06] Although the strength of the UK’s laws has restrained the Government from some of its greatest excesses, there are uncomfortable signs that the Government is prepared to challenge institutions which have historically been neutral or unbiased politically, such as the BBC and cultural institutions, such as museums.

[00:17:29] The fourth area has to do with the countryside and British farming. 

[00:17:34] This has had very little publicity, but will probably become more significant as people become more aware of its gradual impact on the land. 

[00:17:43] Leaving the EU means leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, otherwise known as the CAP. 

[00:17:50] Many blame that policy for the gradual environmental degradation of Britain's countryside, as the CAP’s subsidies encouraged productive agricultural production at all costs, with environmental support coming a very poor second. 

[00:18:07] Now freed of the CAP, there is an opportunity for a more enlightened policy to shape the British countryside in a way that leads to more sustainable farming, better biodiversity and the restoration of endangered local habitats. 

[00:18:24] I suspect that one reason why there has been so little publicity about this area, is because it is relatively uncontroversial and also because its effects will be so gradual and difficult to notice. 

[00:18:37] However, the changes may make one of the UK's most precious assets, its varied and attractive countryside yet more so and better appreciated by citizens and tourists alike. 

[00:18:51] Our penultimate element of exploration today will be Foreign Policy and Britain’s global standing.

[00:18:58] The phrase Global Britain was used a lot by the Brexit campaigners – without any real explanation of what it meant. 

[00:19:06] What is it? 

[00:19:07] A nostalgic desire to return to the imaginary former glory days of the empire? 

[00:19:14] Well, some indication of what is in the current government's mind was illustrated recently with the announcement by the USA, Australia and UK of an agreement to share technology for nuclear-powered submarines between the three nations. 

[00:19:31] The so-called AUKUS agreement between these three Anglophone countries means that Australia, which will gain nuclear-powered submarines through it, had to abandon or give up its submarine deal with France and to transfer the lucrative work to Britain. 

[00:19:48] Although President Macron protested in the strongest terms to the countries involved, especially the USA and Australia, the move was a reminder that the UK is not now bound to Europe in the way in which it was before. 

[00:20:03] The pull of fellow Commonwealth or, in the case of the USA, Anglophone countries will be at least as strong.

[00:20:11] Now, our final element to explore is relating to the United Kingdom itself, a collection of four unique countries joined together for mutual benefit.

[00:20:23] Without a doubt, Brexit has weakened the Union. 

[00:20:27] Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a significant margin– 62% [compared to England’s 48%]. 

[00:20:36] Brexit is powered by English nationalism and Boris Johnson continues to be a highly divisive – some would say toxic – figure for the Scots. 

[00:20:48] Although Scottish independence was meant to have been settled for a generation by the 2014 Independence vote, Brexit has changed the argument. 

[00:20:58] Scotland has reemerged with the Scottish National Party now dominant and calling for a second independence referendum.

[00:21:07] The situation in Northern Ireland is yet more dangerous and difficult.

[00:21:12] In the Brexit campaign, the complexities of Northern Ireland's situation simply were not considered

[00:21:19] If you aren’t familiar with these complexities, here’s a brief summary. 

[00:21:24] The Republic of Ireland, otherwise known as Ireland is in the EU. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and therefore now isn’t in the EU. 

[00:21:35] They share a border, and before the Brexit vote there was free movement between the two countries.

[00:21:42] The Northern Irish Protestants are passionately pro the Union with Britain, and many Catholics want to be part of the Republic of Ireland. 

[00:21:52] There were years of bloody violence between the two parties, and it was very important to avoid reinstituting a land border between the two countries.

[00:22:04] There is no hard border between the two, making a de-facto border between the United Kingdom and Europe in the Irish Sea, which many Northern Irish Unionists take as a betrayal by Britain.

[00:22:19] To state the obvious, Brexit is a huge complication to the Northern Irish situation, and there are genuine fears that this might lead to violence in Northern Ireland, and an eventual unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

[00:22:36] There are, of course, tens, hundreds, thousands of other implications of Brexit, and many important ones we haven’t had the chance to talk about today.

[00:22:47] British people living in Europe, for example, is an important subject that I know a lot about, as I am one of the 1.2 million British people living in the European Union.

[00:22:59] And there are the EU citizens living in the UK, like many of my friends, who are suddenly questioning their relationship with a country they had come to call home.

[00:23:10] Then there’s the scientific funding, the ERASMUS programme, the impact on British cultural life, the impact on English language schools in Europe, because it’s simply far harder for British people to come and work in Europe, fishing, sport, driving licenses, air travel, Gibraltar, Brexit is something that has affected almost every aspect of British life and many aspects of life in Europe.

[00:23:36] So, what will the long term consequences be? 

[00:23:40] As Zhou Enlai said, in fact about the Parisian student protests of 1968 instead of the French Revolution of 1789, perhaps it is still too early to tell.

[00:23:54] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the aftermath of Brexit, and with that comes the end of this mini-series.

[00:24:02] To state the obvious, it is a huge and complicated subject, and one we could talk for hours on end about. I hope at least that you’ve found this mini-series to be an interesting introduction to the past, present, and future of Brexit, and that it has given you a little insight into some of the peculiarities of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

[00:24:26] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of this mini-series. 

[00:24:31] The majority of our listeners come from EU countries, and no doubt you have an opinion, or perhaps questions about Brexit.

[00:24:39] So, let’s get this Brexit discussion started then.

[00:24:42] The place to go to for that is our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:49] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:55] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.



[END OF EPISODE]