For most Americans, the word “Brexit” is a distant memory. It was June, 2016 when former Prime Minister David Cameron posed a referendum to the UK: leave the European Union (EU) or stay. By an incredibly small margin, the UK voted to leave. Three years later, Britain has yet to actually depart from the EU. Cameron left office after the referendum and left Brexit negotiations with his successor. Prime Minister Teresa May was the first to propose an actual agreement with the EU to parliament, but her deal was massively unpopular and suffered a record defeat in Parliament. May left office in July 2019, leaving former mayor of London and member of parliament, Boris Johnson in power.
Johnson’s actions thus far have not been promising for Britain’s future. Boris Johnson, as a leader of the Leave Campaign during the 2016 referendum, has long been associated with Brexit. However, since taking office, the Prime Minister has made little progress and even attempted to suspend parliament, but with the Brexit deal deadline coming up this October, Britain is running out of time.
On October 2nd, Johnson published his deal for Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, stated “It’s worse than Teresa May’s deal” (BBC). One of the most unpopular aspects of Johnson’s deal is his plan for the Northern Irish border, the UK’s only land border. Johnson has proposed a “two borders for four years” plan in which a sea border would regulate trade, and, far more troubling, a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would regulate customs (The Telegraph).
For the millions of people living in the area, the prospect of reinstating a customs border is nightmarish. There is a long history of violence fueled by religion and differences in national identity in Ireland. Between 1968 and 1999, The Troubles, an ethno-nationalist war, dominated life in Ireland and led to thousands of deaths until the 1999 Good Friday Agreement, often referred to as the basis for government in Northern Ireland. The agreement created a fragile peace in the region, in part by removing the customs checkpoints at the border (BBC).
When asked to comment, Liam Collins of Ramapo’s class of 2017 currently living in Dublin, said, “A lot of people are afraid that this will be like the troubles all over again”, and people are right to be scared. In March, a car bomb was discovered near the border, and in late September petrol bombs were hurled at police. While many fear that Johnson’s plan is escalating violence, the Prime Minister believes he has the perfect solution; customs checkpoints will be “near the border” rather than at the border, although many fear that this creates a militarized “no man’s land” surrounding the border (The Independent).
Despite its innumerable flaws, Johnson’s deal is still preferable to a “no-deal Brexit”, in which the EU would settle on the harshest terms possible without negotiation. With only a few days left, it seems doubtful that Johnson’s deal will be accepted, and there is a very real possibility of Britain being cast out of the EU without a deal at all (BBC).
Boris Johnson returning to Parliament for the first time
since he attempted to suspend the government
Photo credit: NBC
By Corinna Collins