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BREXIT: It’s Effects and Implication on Britain

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By Chandrakant

 

Origin of the word Brexit

 

The term ‘Brexit’ was first used in a June 2012 article in The Economist  in comparison with Grexit. The European press (and the UK press) did use this word almost exclusively as opposed to any other wordings that could have been used.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

                                       United Kingdom in the European Union

 

British withdrawal from the European Union, often shortened to Brexit (a portmanteau of “British” or “Britain” and “exit”), is a political goal that was pursued by various individuals, advocacy groups, and political parties since the United Kingdom (UK) joined the precursor of the European Union (EU) in 1973. Withdrawal from the European Union has been a right of EU member states since 2007 under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

In 1975, a referendum was held on the country’s membership of the European Economic Community (EEC), later known as the EU. The outcome of the vote was approximately 67% in favour of the country’s continued membership of the EEC.

The UK electorate again addressed the question on 23 June 2016, in a referendum on the country’s membership. This referendum was arranged by Parliament when it passed the European Union Referendum Act 2015.

The result of this referendum held in June 2016 was 51.9% in support of an exit (17,410,742 votes) and 48.1% (16,141,241 votes) to remain with a turnout of 72.2% and 26,033 rejected ballots.

Background

 

The UK was not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome which created the EEC in 1957. The country subsequently applied to join the organization in 1963 and again in 1967, but both applications were vetoed by the then President of France, Charles de Gaulle, ostensibly because “a number of aspects of Britain’s economy, from working practices to agriculture” [had] “made Britain incompatible with Europe.

Once de Gaulle had relinquished the French presidency, the UK made a third application for membership, which was successful. On 1 January 1973 the United Kingdom joined the EEC, then often referred to in the UK as the “Common Market”. This was done under the Conservative government of Edward Heath. The opposition Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson, contested the October 1974 general election with a commitment to renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership of the EEC and then hold a referendum on whether to remain in the EEC on the new terms.

1975 Referendum

In 1975 the United Kingdom held a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EEC. All of the major political parties and mainstream press supported continuing membership of the EEC. However, there were significant splits within the ruling Labour party, the membership of which had voted 2:1 in favour of withdrawal at a one-day party conference on 26 April 1975. Since the cabinet was split between strongly pro-European and strongly anti-European ministers, Harold Wilson suspended the constitutional convention of Cabinet collective responsibility and allowed ministers to publicly campaign on either side. Seven of the twenty-three members of the cabinet opposed EEC membership. On 5 June 1975, the electorate were asked to vote yes or no on the question: “Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?” Every administrative county in the UK had a majority of “Yes”, except the Shetland Islands and the Outer Hebrides. In line with the outcome of the vote, the United Kingdom remained a member of the EEC.

 

Yes votes Yes (%) No votes No (%) Turnout (%)
17,378,581 67.2 8,470,073 32.8 64.5

 

Between referendums

The opposition Labour Party campaigned in the 1983 general election on a commitment to withdraw from the EEC. It was heavily defeated as the Conservative government ofMargaret Thatcher was re-elected. The Labour Party subsequently changed its policy.

As a result of the Maastricht Treaty, the EEC became the European Union on 1 November 1993. The organization had evolved from an economic union into a political union. The name change reflected this.

The Referendum Party was formed in 1994 by Sir James Goldsmith to contest the 1997 general election on a platform of providing a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.] It fielded candidates in 547 constituencies at that election and won 810,860 votes, 2.6% of total votes cast. It failed to win a single parliamentary seat as its vote was spread out, losing its deposit (funded by Goldsmith) in 505 constituencies. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), a Eurosceptic political party, was also formed in the early 1990s. It achieved third place in the UK during the 2004 European elections, second place in the 2009 European elections and first place in the 2014 European elections, with 27.5% of the total vote. This was the first time since the 1910 general election that any party other than the Labour or Conservative parties had taken the largest share of the vote in a nationwide election.

In the 2015 general election UKIP took 12.6% of the total vote and won a seat in Parliament, the first they had taken in a general election.

 

2016 Referendum

 

In 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron rejected calls for a referendum on the UK’s EU membership, but suggested the possibility of a future referendum to gauge public support. According to the BBC, “The prime minister acknowledged the need to ensure the UK’s position within the European Union had ‘the full-hearted support of the British people’ but they needed to show ‘tactical and strategic patience’.” In January 2013, Cameron announced that a Conservative government would hold an in-out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017, on a renegotiated package, if elected in 2015.

The Conservative Party won the 2015 general election. Soon afterwards the European Union Referendum Act 2015 was introduced into Parliament to enable the referendum. Despite being in favour of remaining in a reformed European Union himself, Cameron announced that Conservative Ministers and MPs were free to campaign in favour of remaining in the EU or leaving it, according to their conscience. This decision came after mounting pressure for a free vote for ministers. In an exception to the usual rule of cabinet collective responsibility, Cameron allowed cabinet ministers to publicly campaign for EU withdrawal.

In a speech to the House of Commons on 22 February 2016, Cameron announced a referendum date of 23 June 2016 and set out the legal framework for withdrawal from the European Union in circumstances where there was a referendum majority vote to leave, citing Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Cameron spoke of an intention to trigger the Article 50 process immediately following a leave vote and of the “two-year time period to negotiate the arrangements for exit.”

Campaign groups

 

The official campaign group for leaving the EU was Vote Leave. Other major campaign groups included Leave.EU,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_UnionGrassroots Out, and Better Off Out, while non-EU affiliated organisations also campaigned for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, such as the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union

The official campaign to stay in the EU, chaired by Stuart Rose, was known as Britain Stronger in Europe, or informally as Remain. Other campaigns supporting remaining in the EU included Conservatives In, Labour in for Britain, #INtogether (Liberal Democrats), Greens for a Better Europe, Scientists for EU,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union Environmentalists For Europe,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union Universities for Europehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union and Another Europe is Possible.

Public opinion

 

Opinion polling for the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum

 

                                       Opinion polling for the referendum

Public opinion on whether the UK should leave the EU or stay has varied. An October 2015 analysis of polling suggested that younger voters tend to support remaining in the EU, whereas older voters tend to support leaving, but there is no gender split in attitudes.

Procedure for leaving the EU

 

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union provides that: “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union Article 50 was inserted by the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, before which the treaties were silent on the possibility of withdrawal from the European Union. Once a member state has notified the European Council of its intent to leave the EU, a period begins during which a leaving agreement is negotiated setting out the arrangements for the withdrawal and outlining the country’s future relationship with the Union. For the agreement to enter into force it needs to be approved by at least 72 percent of the continuing member states representing at least 65 percent of their population, and the consent of the European Parliament. The treaties cease to apply to the member state concerned on the entry into force of the leaving agreement, or in the absence of such an agreement, two years after the member state notified the European Council of its intent to leave, although this period can be extended by unanimous agreement of the European Council. Instead going through the internal EU process, the UK could also unilaterally withdraw by repealing the enabling European Communities Act 1972 (UK).

The 2016 referendum does not directly require the government to do anything in particular. Nor did the Scottish independence referendum, 2014. The 2016 referendum does not require the government to initiate, or even schedule, the Article 50 procedure, although David Cameron stated during the campaign that he would invoke Article 50 straight away in the event of a leave victory. Some have suggested that a second referendum could be held to “confirm” the decision to leave following negotiations. However, there is no established, formal process for doing so.. The UK government has stated that they would expect a leave vote to be followed by withdrawal, not by a second vote. EU politicians largely agree. Following the referendum result, Cameron announced that he would resign before the Conservative party conference in October, and that it would be for the incoming Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the EU Treaty.

However, a petition to the UK Parliament for a second referendum reached nearly 3 million signatures within two days. It asked: “We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if they remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.” The referendum of 23 June fulfils these conditions. Having received more than 100,000 signatures, the petition must receive a government response and be considered for a parliamentary debate.

Subsequent relationship with the remaining EU members 

 

 

 

 

Political System of the European Union

 

Now that the UK electorate has voted to leave the EU, its subsequent relationship with the remaining EU members could take several forms. A research paper presented to the UK Parliament proposed a number of alternatives to membership which would continue to allow access with the EU internal market. These include remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) as a European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member, or seeking to negotiate bilateral terms along the Swiss model with a series of interdependent sectoral agreements.

Were the UK to join the EEA as an EFTA member, it would have to sign up to EU internal market legislation without being able to participate in its development or vote on its content. However, the EU is required to conduct extensive consultations with non-EU members beforehand via its many committees and cooperative bodies. Some EU law originates from various international bodies on which non-EU EEA countries have a seat.

The EEA Agreement (EU and EFTA members except Switzerland) does not cover Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies, Customs Union, Common Trade Policy, Common Foreign and Security Policy, direct and indirect taxation, and Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters, leaving EFTA members free to set their own policies in these areas; however, EFTA countries are required to contribute to the EU Budget in exchange for access to the internal market. The EEA Agreement and the agreement with Switzerland cover free movement of goods, and free movement of people. Many supporters of Brexit want to restrict freedom of movement, however an EEA Agreement would include free movement for EU and EEA citizens. Others present ideas of a Swiss solution, that is tailor-made agreements between the UK and the EU, but EU representatives have claimed they would not support such a solution. The Swiss agreements contain free movement for EU citizens.

 

Opinions on the results of a withdrawal

 

A report by Tim Oliver of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs expanded analysis of what a British withdrawal could mean for the EU: the report argues a UK withdrawal “has the potential to fundamentally change the EU and European integration. On the one hand, a withdrawal could tip the EU towards protectionism, exacerbate existing divisions, or unleash centrifugal forces leading to the EU’s unraveling. Alternatively, the EU could free itself of its most awkward member, making the EU easier to lead and be more effective.”

 

Immigration

 

After the announcement of the outcome of the referendum on 24 June 2016, indicating that Britain would leave the European Union, political correspondent for Guardian Rowena Mason offered the following assessment: “Polling suggests discontent with the scale of migration to the UK has been the biggest factor pushing Britons to vote out, with the contest turning into a referendum on whether people are happy to accept free movement in return for free trade.” A Times columnist, Philip Collins, went a step further in his analysis: “This was a referendum about immigration disguised as a referendum about the European Union.” The Conservative MEP representing South East England, Daniel Hannan, predicted on BBC Newsnight that the level of immigration would remain high after Brexit: “Frankly, if people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU, they are going to be disappointed. … You will look in vain for anything that the Leave campaign said at any point that ever suggested there would ever be any kind of border closure or drawing up of the drawbridge.”

 

Economic effects

 

The UK treasury has estimated that being in the EU has a strong positive effect on trade and as a result the UK’s trade would be worse off if it left the EU. Supporters of withdrawal from the EU have argued that by ceasing to make a net contribution to the EU would allow for some cuts to taxes and/or increases in government spending.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union However, Britain would still be required to make contributions to the EU budget if it opted to remain in the European Free Trade Area. The Institute for Fiscal Studies notes that majority of forecasts of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy would leave the government with less money to spend even if it no longer had to pay into the EU. Former Chancellor of the ExchequerNorman Lamont argued that if Britain left the EU, the EU would not impose retaliatory tariffs on British products, pointing out that the EU needed a trade agreement with Britain as German car manufacturers wanted to sell their cars to the world’s fifth biggest market. Lamont argued that the EFTA option was irrelevant and that Britain and the EU would agree on a trade pact which tailored to Britain’s needs. James Dyson argued that it would be self-defeating for the EU to impose retaliatory tariffs on British products because if the EU imposed a tariff on Britain, Britain would impose a retaliatory tariff on the EU, claiming that Britain bought 100 billion pounds worth of the EU’s goods and sold 10 billion pounds worth of Britain’s goods.  However, proportionally, the government responded that “EU exports to the UK are worth 3% of EU GDP, while UK exports to the EU are worth 13% of UK GDP – four times more.” On 15 June 2016, Vote Leave, the official Leave campaign, presented its roadmap to lay out what would happen if Britain left the EU. The blueprint suggested that Parliament would pass laws: Finance Bill to scrap VAT on tampon and household energy bills; Asylum and Immigration Control Bill to end the automatic right of EU citizens to enter Britain; National Health Service (Funding Target) Bill to get an extra 100 million pounds a week; European Union Law (Emergency Provisions) Bill; Free Trade Bill to start to negotiate its own deals with non-EU countries; and European Communities Act 1972 (Repeal) Bill to end the European Court of Justice‘s jurisdiction over Britain and stop making contribution to the EU budget. Many nations may gain benefits from Brexit. One example is the potential for increased real estate prices in New York] Many attorneys worry about the potential for contracts to be invalidated for Purpose. Former Bundesbank President Axel Weber said that leaving the EU would not deal a major blow to London’s status as one of the top financial hubs. On 24 June 2016, the bond and credit rating agency of Moody’s, on the basis of the result of the referendum, downgraded the UK’s standing as a long-term debt issuer and the country’s debt rating to “negative” from “stable,” while retaining the overall rating of Aa1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, the only major agency to still assigning Britain the top, triple-A grade, had stated before Thursday’s referendum that Britain was likely to face a downgrade if it voted to leave, while Fitch Ratings stated on Friday that the vote would be “moderately negative” for the country’s rating.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union On the other hand, economic analysts have pointed out that the UK, as a fiscally and monetarily sovereign nation, retains the ability to service or retire, at any time, any part or all of the state debt that is denominated in the national currency, and, hence, there is no risk whatsoever of defaulting on that part of its debt.[71]

Long-term economic attractiveness

 

European experts from the World Pensions Forum and the University of Bath have argued that, beyond short-lived market volatility, the long term economic prospects of Britain remain high, notably in terms of country attractiveness and foreign direct investment: “Country risk experts we spoke to are confident the UK’s economy will remain robust in the event of an exit from the EU. ‘The economic attractiveness of Britain will not go down and a trade war with London is in no one’s interest,’ says M Nicolas Firzli, director-general of the World Pensions Council (WPC) and advisory board member for the World Bank Global Infrastructure Facility […] Bruce Morley, lecturer in economics at the University of Bath, goes further to suggest that the long-term benefits to the UK of leaving the Union, such as less regulation and more control over Britain’s trade policy, could outweigh the short-term uncertainty observed in the [country risk] scores.”

 

Possible secessions: Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar

 

Leading figures both supportive and not of Scottish independence have suggested that in the event the UK as a whole votes to leave the EU but Scotland as a whole votes to remain in the EU (as it has transpired), a second Scottish independence referendum may be precipitated. Former Labour Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish has said that he would support Scottish independence under such circumstances. It has also been pointed out that upon the UK’s exit from the EU, many of the powers and competencies of the EU institutions would be repatriated to Holyrood and not Westminster.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union Currently, Scotland exports three and a half times more to the rest of the UK than to the rest of the EU. The pro-union Scotland in Union has suggested that an independent Scotland within the EU would face trade barriers with a post-Brexit UK and face additional costs for re-entry to the EU. Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland, has warned that a UK exit of the European Union could damage the Northern Ireland peace process. Secretary Theresa denounced the suggestion as “scaremongering of the worst possible kind”. It has been suggested by a member of Germany’s parliamentary finance committee that a “bilateral solution” between the UK and Ireland could be negotiated quickly after a leave vote. On 24 June 2016, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU,Northern Ireland‘s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness called for a referendum on Irish reunification.

In 2015, Chief Minister of GibraltarFabian Picardo suggested that Gibraltar would attempt to remain part of the EU in the event the UK voted to leave,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union but reaffirmed that, regardless of the result, the territory would remain British. In a letter to the (UK) Foreign Affairs Select Committee, he requested that Gibraltar be considered in negotiations post-Brexit. Spain‘s foreign minister José García-Margallo said Spain would seek talks on Gibraltar the “very next day” after a British exit from the EU.

 

Border with France

 

Regional President of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-PicardieXavier Bertrand stated in February 2016 that “If Britain leaves Europe, right away the border will leave Calais and go to Dover. We will not continue to guard the border for Britain if it’s no longer in the European Union” indicating that the juxtaposed controls would end with a leave vote. French Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron also suggested the agreement would be “threatened” by a leave vote. These claims have been disputed, as the Le Touquet treaty enabling juxtaposed controls was not debated from within the EU, and would not be legally void upon leaving.

Academic funding via EU system

 

UK universities rely on the EU for around 16% of their total research funding, and are disproportionately successful at winning EU-awarded research grants. This has raised questions about how such funding would be impacted by a British exit. St George’s, University of London professor Angus Dalgleish pointed out that Britain paid much more into the EU research budget than it received, and that existing European collaboration such as CERN and European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) began long before the Lisbon Treaty, adding that leaving the EU would not damage Britain’s science. London School of Economics emeritus professor Alan Sked pointed out that non-EU countries such as Israel and Switzerland signed agreements with the EU in terms of the funding of collaborative research and projects, and suggested that if Britain left the EU, Britain would be able to reach a similar agreement with the EU, pointing out that educated people and research bodies would easily find some financial arrangement during an at least 2-year transition period which was related to Article 50 of Treaty of European Union(TEU.

Political effects

 

Former Chairman of the Conservative PartyNorman Tebbit said that David Cameron should resign as prime minister if the UK voted for an EU exit. According to a poll conducted by Ipsos MORI in late March 2016, 48 per cent of UK voters thought that Cameron should resign if the UK voted to leave the EU. David Cameron said that he would stay in office after the referendum, while former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke said that the Prime Minister would not last 30 seconds if Britain voted to leave the EU.After the withdrawal from the EU was passed, Cameron announced that he would resign around October. The right-wing Dutch populist Geert Wilders said that the Netherlands should follow Britain’s example and hold a referendum on whether Netherlands should stay in the European Union.

                                                            

Voting result

 

 

                                                                    The ballot.

   
According to the BBC the first results were expected around midnight on 23 June, with the full results by breakfast time on 24 June. Gibraltar was the first British voting zone to report the voting results, ending in a “Remain” vote for the British OverseasTerritory.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_withdrawal_from_the_European_UnionThoughinitially behind, Leave scored early victories in England, including a significant win in Sunderland by a margin of more than 20%, pulling ahead in the general count. However, Remain soon retook a small lead with wide-margin wins in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London. The BBC since projected a win for the Leave campaign.On the morning of 24 June, the result from the vote was that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union 52% to 48%.United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
Choice Votes  %
Leave the European Union 17,410,742 51.89
Remain a member of the European Union 16,141,241 48.11
Valid votes 33,551,983 99.92
Invalid or blank votes 25,359 0.08
Total votes 33,577,342 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 46,501,241 72.2%
 

 

Referendum results (without spoiled ballots)
Leave:
17,410,742 (51.9%)
Remain:
16,141,241 (48.1%)

 

After the vote to leave was confirmed David Cameron did not immediately invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is necessary in order to begin the formal process of withdrawal. Instead, he announced that he would resign as Prime Minister prior to the Conservative party conference in October 2016 and stated the following:

“A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United Kingdom has voted by 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent to leave the European Union after 43 years in an historic referendum.

 

Watched by his wife Samantha, the 49-year-old British leader, who has just completed a little over a year in his second five-year term, assured the world, more specifically the European nations, that there will be no immediate changes in the way people will travel and services will be sold in Britain.

 

 

IMAGE: Vote LEAVE supporters wear Union flags, following the result of the EU referendum, outside Downing Street in London, Britain. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

While thanking the Remain campaigners, Cameron also congratulated those who took part in the Leave campaign, for the “spirited and passionate case” that they made.

“Cameron reassured Britons living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in their circumstances.

“There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move, or the way our services can be sold. We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced,” he said.

London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly to stay in the EU but Brexit held strong in the north of England, the Midlands region, Wales and most English counties, sending world markets into a shock with the Pound Sterling in free-fall.

Cameron, while announcing that he will step down, also said, “I’m very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years. I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married, whatever their sexuality.”  Cameron, concluded his statement on an emotional note, saying, “I love this country and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.”

Bank of England governor Mark Carney moved soon after to also issue a strong statement to try and calm the turmoil unleashed on the world markets.

 

IMAGE: Dawn breaks over London as votes are counted for the EU referendum.    

                                             Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

     

“We are well prepared for this. The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning and the Chancellor and I have been in close contact, including through the night and this morning. The Bank will not hesitate to take additional measures as required as those markets adjust and the UK economy moves forward,” he said.

“UK banks have raised over 130 billion pounds of capital, and now have more than 600 billion pounds of high quality liquid assets…This substantial capital and huge liquidity gives banks the flexibility they need to continue to lend to UK businesses and households, even during challenging times,” Carney said.

Cameron, who has been Prime Minister of the UK for six years, winning a majority second term for his Conservative party in the 2015 General Election, said the country now requires, “strong, determined and committed leadership” to negotiate the UK’s future with Europe and the rest of the world.

His most likely successor is believed to be former London mayor Boris Johnson, who was seen to have spearheaded his own campaign to become Prime Minister when he took charge of the Brexit camp earlier this year. Other senior Conservatives on the bookmaker’s list include UK Chancellor George Osborne and home secretary Theresa May.

However, the general view is that the Conservative party leadership will be taken on by a pro-Brexit minister.

More than 80 Eurosceptic MPs from his party, including leading Vote Leave campaigner Johnson and UK employment minister Priti Patel, had moved quickly to calm the internal party turmoil by urging Cameron to stay on as Prime Minister in a letter delivered to him soon after the polls closed on last night.

“We who are supporters of Vote Leave and members of the Conservative Party thank you for giving the British people a choice of their destiny on 23 June.  We believe that whatever the British people decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our 2015 manifesto,” the letter stated.

But there was a significant number who believed his position had become untenable, having campaigned so strongly against the final outcome of Thursday’s referendum and warned of a “less safe” country in the event of a Brexit vote.

 

 

 

 

IMAGE: Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, enjoys the combine’s victory after Britain voted to leave the European Union in   

                                              Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who called for the UK to remain in the EU but was accused of a lukewarm campaign, said poorer communities were “fed up” with cuts and felt “marginalised by successive governments”.”Clearly there are some very difficult days ahead,” he said. The political discourse swiftly moved to the future and what happens next in the event of a Brexit vote.

In the immediate aftermath, Britain will remain a member of the EU and nothing will change instantly. The Vote Leave camp, which included Indian-origin MPs Priti Patel, Cameron’s Indian Diaspora Champion, and Infosys chief Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law Rishi Sunak, had said in a campaign note recently that, “Britain’s trade policy is controlled by the EU.”

Commonwealth countries like India have been in talks with the EU about doing a trade deal since 2007 but to no avail. Another Indian-origin MP and Cameron’s Infrastructure Envoy to India, Alok Sharma, on the Leave side, had argued that EU membership meant a “seat at the table as the EU negotiates some of the biggest trade deals in history — such as the ongoing discussions with the United States, China and India”. In terms of broad trends, the vote reflected a much divided country.

 

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SFJ annouces $1M aid for agitating farmers, agencies vigilant

The SFJ had announced anti-India campaign, ‘Referendum-2020’, in November this year to seek secession of Punjab from India.

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Farmers Delegation

New Delhi: As thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are rallying at Delhi’s three interstate border points, banned secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) is trying to fish in troubled waters by announcing $1 million aid for farmers who suffered injuries or damage to their vehicles while facing police action in Haryana.

The information has sent security agencies into a tizzy, with many deployed on protest spots in plainclothes to keep a close tab on SFJ supporters who may mingle with protesters as part of their “ill-intention” to lure innocent farmers and take undue advantage of the situation in the name of helping them.

In its recent announcement through a social media platform, the SFJ said it will provide $1 million aid to farmers from “Punjab and Haryana who have suffered bodily injuries or damage to their vehicles while facing police action during their hard-fought journey to Delhi”.

The SFJ’s message mentions its plan for opening a 24-hour call centre on November 30 in the US, Canada, the UK, France and Germany to accept online applications from farmers of Punjab and Haryana to reimburse for their losses and also to register votes for its “Khalistan Referendum”.

“SFJ is kick-starting the Khalistan Referendum voting from London on August 15, 2021 for the independence of Punjab,” mentions the message circulated by SFJ’s US-based General Counsel and group’s key leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun — designated a terrorist by the Indian government.

Assuring farmers of Punjab and Haryana that the SFJ will bear all the losses they have suffered, Pannun stated that “once Punjab is liberated from Indian occupation, the loans of the farmers will be waived and free power supply granted”.

The group has also threatened to take up the matter at the international level if the Indian government did not repeal its three contentious farm laws enacted in September.

“If the Modi government does not scrap the farm bills, as demanded by the farmers, SFJ will initiate legal action against India at the international level with the backing of various kisan organisations,” Pannun said in the message.

Security establishment, including anti-terror agencies, have since intensified efforts against the group banned by the MHA via a notification dated July 10 last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) following its “anti-India activities” to disrupt law and order in the country.

However, the security officials maintained, no suspicious activity of the group has been noticed in the national capital or in the interstate border areas so far, even as central agencies are keeping a strict vigil to avoid any untoward activity.

It is the third such message circulated by the SFJ in the past one week. The SFJ earlier this week had called upon farmers of Punjab and Haryana to raise Khalistan flag at the India Gate here on the 12th anniversary of a terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, following which the national capital was put on high alert.

The SFJ had announced anti-India campaign, ‘Referendum-2020’, in November this year to seek secession of Punjab from India.

The move followed inputs that the Sikh community across India has rejected the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sponsored propaganda of ‘Referendum-2020’. Pakistani intelligence agency ISI has been backing the malicious campaign launched by the SFJ as a large number of Pakistani Twitter handles have started tweeting in favour of the so-called ‘Referendum’.

Dubbing Sikhs in Kashmir as “freedom fighters and Sikh soldiers”, the US-based Khalistani radical outfit has urged them to support its most infamous agenda, ‘Referendum-2020’.

The group is already on the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has been taking action against its key leaders such as Pannun and many others. In the beginning of September, based on NIA’s inputs, the MHA had issued an order to attach the properties of Pannun and SFJ’s Canada coordinator Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

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Punjabi diaspora worried, shocked over ‘brutality’ against farmers

“Farmers are peacefully protesting over controversial bills that will impact their livelihoods. Water cannons and tear gas, are being used to silence them.”

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Farmers Beaten

Chandigarh, Nov 29: The planned protest against new farm laws and the ‘brutality’ of the security forces by lobbing teargas shells and using water cannons to stop the peaceful march of the farmers towards the national capital has left the diaspora largely from Canada worried and shocked.

They asked the Indian government to engage in an open dialogue with the farmers as their livelihoods are going to be impacted.

Expressing solidarity with the farmers, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized were very troubling.

“Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right,” he tweeted on Sunday.

Joining the issue, Sonia Sidhu, MP for Brampton South, Canada, tweeted, “I received many messages from constituents concerned in Brampton South about the situation in India.

“My residents told me how worried they are about the protests of the Punjab farmers. I share their concerns and hope that the situation will be resolved peacefully.”

Joining her counterpart, Ruby Sahota, MP for Brampton (North), said the determination and resilience of the farmers is admirable.

“In a free and just society one should be able to advocate for their cause without the threat of force being used against them. The brutality being faced by the Indian farmers in these images is deplorable,” she said in a tweet.

Joining the cause, Chandigarh-born Rachna Singh, Parliament Secretary of British Columbia, said she was really saddened by the way Punjab farmers are being treated. “This is unacceptable.”

Describing the violence perpetrated by the Indian government against farmers peacefully protesting is appalling, Canada’s New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted: “I stand in solidarity with the farmers from Punjab and across India — and, I call on the Indian government to engage in peaceful dialogue rather than violence”

He thanked Jack Harris, MP for St. John’s East, for his advocacy.

“We are shocked to see the Indian government’s suppression of farmers protesting new laws which will endanger their livelihood. Instead of using water cannons and tear gas, the Indian government needs to engage in open dialogue with farmers,” said Harris.

“Peaceful protests are fundamental in any democracy, and I urge for the rights of the protestors to be respected,” said Navdeep Bains, MP for Mississauga-Malton.

“Shocking scenes from Delhi,” remarked MP from Britain, Preet Kaur Gill.

“Farmers are peacefully protesting over controversial bills that will impact their livelihoods. Water cannons and tear gas, are being used to silence them.”

Tracing his roots to a farmer family, Indo-Canadian politician Gurratan Singh said the images of police brutality were horrific.

“I come from a family of farmers. I feel the pain and struggle of farmers protesting laws that threaten their livelihoods. The state continues to meet peaceful protestors with violence and brutality,” he tweeted along with the video of his speech made by him in the Ontario Assembly.

“Farmers are the backbone of our society. They feed cities, and right now they are under attack in India. Folks in my riding are concerned about new laws that are passed by the Indian government that are going to hurt the farmers in Punjab, Haryana and others across India.

“That’s why I am asking all the members of this House to come together to stand with farmers against these unjust laws passed by the Indian government, so farmers in India can live with respect and dignity that they deserve,” Gurratan Singh said in his speech.

Standing with farmers in India, Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, Andrea Horwath, said: “Everyone deserves to be able to exercise their democratic rights without fear of state-sanctioned violence”.

Canadian MP Tim Uppal posted, “India’s farmers deserve to be heard and respected. This is horrific.”

The farmers are protesting against the farm laws as they feel that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate entities.

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The new team in Washington surveys West Asia Trump leaves behind

To point fingers at the Muslim Brotherhood (Akhwan ul Muslimeen) as the enemy would isolate most of the GCC Sheikhdoms from the larger Muslim ‘Umma’. They would then be perceived as only the ‘Wahabi’ sect of the Sunni world.

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Joe Biden

New Delhi, Nov 29: For the new team being announced by the Biden administration any innovation can only follow repair work of the considerable wreckage that is being left behind by the outgoing team.

At this moment of transition, what construct does one place on the outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s participation in the cloak-and-dagger meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in the mega city of Neom being built on the Red Sea? The drama of this meeting was heightened by Netanyahu’s office denying the meeting in tones which seemed to suggest that the Israelis were not busting their guts to keep the meeting secret. A pretense of secrecy was essential because otherwise ‘MBS’ would be in ‘trouble’.

Netanyahu’s Education Minister, Yoav Galant, could not contain his joy at the “amazing achievement” because the “Sunni world” was joining the Israel-US alliance to counter “Iranian Shiite extremism”.

This Shia-Sunni confrontation, real or simulated, has been the game ever since the Shah was toppled in Iran. Why then this secrecy now? Why is MBS so scared being seen in an embrace with Netanyahu on Saudi soil? Because his people will find out? Do his people matter? But it turns out that human rights is an article of faith with the incoming Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. This may well be a source of anxiety not just for Saudi Arabia but all monarchies and authoritarian systems. Are there any in our vicinity?

A hint about MBS’s source of anxiety was available in the other crucial meeting the Saudi king had with President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The Turkish strongman is part of a quadrangle which both, Washington (the incoming administration) and MBS, Netanyahu too, should by analyzing.

After the Soviet collapse in 1991, it was elementary that creating a distance between Moscow and Beijing would remain a US strategic goal. But George W Bush and his deluded neo-cons asked for the moon — full spectrum global dominance into the American century. The financial crisis of 2008 rapped them hard on the knuckles. American decline was well underway when Trump greased the downward slide even more effectively.

The evolving Biden team will contemplate at the menacing quadrangle I mentioned at the outset. To begin with, Moscow and Beijing have never been closer. The duet spotted the potential of Iran too, and included it in the club. After all, Washington is just about to dust up the Iranian nuclear file for a resumption of a conversation with Tehran.

No sooner had Trump lost the election, when Imran Khan was on his maiden trip to Kabul. This, when the US troop withdrawal from the Afghan capital had run into the sort of snags which US representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad was trying to sort out. Was the Pakistan Prime Minister now effectively being positioned to handle the Afghan file? This became a very real anxiety in both Tehran and New Delhi. But Iran being re-invited on the nuclear file, mollifies it somewhat. How happy New Delhi should be with its exertions in the Quad (US, Australia, Japan, India) only time can tell. The Japanese Foreign Minister has already clarified: our membership of the Quad is not directed against any country.

So, while the US was on the Trump rollercoaster and coping with the social mayhem and galloping Covid, other countries were moving increasingly in concert. There has been so much continuous chanting of the Shia-Sunni conflict that real and abiding antipathies have been lost sight of.

A convenient point of departure to explain this narrative are the two events in December, 1979, which rattled the Saudis, indeed the world — Ayatollah Khomeini’s return, signaling the Iranian revolution. Around the same date, an anti-monarchy, Sunni, an extreme version of the Muslim Brotherhood, Juhayman al-Otaybi, defied the Saudi state by occupying the holiest Muslim mosque of Mecca.

Unable to flush out Otaybi and his armed supporters, Saudis sought Western help. A situation emerged which to a non Muslim would read like a situation comedy. Since non Muslims are not allowed in Mecca, US and French soldiers had to be converted to Islam to enter the mosque and accomplish the holy task of killing Otaybi and his men. This “rebellion within” gives Saudis nightmares. But they feel more secure externalizing the threat. They have persistently targeted Iran and Shiaism as threats to themselves, Israel, indeed, the West. When did you last hear of the 15 days siege of the Mecca Mosque?

To point fingers at the Muslim Brotherhood (Akhwan ul Muslimeen) as the enemy would isolate most of the GCC Sheikhdoms from the larger Muslim ‘Umma’. They would then be perceived as only the ‘Wahabi’ sect of the Sunni world.

Incalculable Saudi wealth, particularly after the quadrupling of oil prices following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, had the Western Military Industrial Complex salivating on Arab petro dollars. The oil rich Sheikhs are, by formal agreements, dependent on Western arms. Their wealth plus their links to Israel give them considerable control on Western media which has quite shockingly harped only on the Shia-Sunni conflict.

When the Arab Spring dethroned Hosni Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s Prime Minister. Coming to power of a Brother in Egypt caused the Saudis to load their camels with their billions and turn up in Cairo to stabilize Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s coup in Cairo. Brothers in power in Egypt was anathema to the Israelis too because the Hamas in Gaza would now have help from all sides. Brother in Turkey, Qatar and Egypt. They were ideologically coherent with Hamas.

At the Shia end, the Hezbullah in Lebanon, Iran, the Alawi elements in the Syrian Army, the Shia majority in Iraq, Houthis of Yemen are all supporting the Palestinian cause to the hilt.

No, it is not the Shia Sunni divide which is bothering MBS and Netanyahu. What worries them deeply is the Shia-Sunni combine zeroing in on the Israelis and the Wahabis in unlikely comradeship.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior commentator on political and diplomatic issues. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on [email protected])

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