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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Brexit, Briefly

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Brexit! The British exit from the European Union.

It's a thing that's happeningor maybe not.

Or maybe the United Kingdom is falling apart.

There's a lot going on, so let's talk about Brexit, briefly.

First: How'd we get here?

In the UK, voters for UKIPthe UK Independence Partygrew in number over the last few elections.

Now, because the United Kingdom uses a terrible first-past-the-post voting system,

UKIP, rather than getting a proportional number of seats in Parliament,

largely drained votes from the Conservative Party.

So, in the 2015 election, Conservatives promised to hold an in-or-out referendum on the EU if they won,

presumably to try and sway UKIP voters to their side.

The Conservatives did win, in what was, by the way, the most unrepresentative election in UK history

thanks again First Past the Post, click here for more details

and the promised referendum was scheduled.

With huge voter turnout, Brexit won 52 to 48.

So what happens next?

Well, the EU has a law called Article 50 saying countries can exit.

Basically it's a "press here to leave" button.

But the Conservative Prime Minister who promised upon Brexit victory to press it immediately,

instead resigned immediately, leaving the UK politically doing nothing.

There was talk of a second Brexit


or re-electing Parliament.

But then the new UK Prime Minister was appointed and she said that wouldn't happen.

Presumably the UK Parliament now needs to pass a

"Yes we are really pressing the Brexit button law",

but they seem to be in no rush.

Meanwhile the EU wants the UK to get on with it, but the UK wants to pre-decide

all the details of what an independent UK's relationship with the EU would look like,

but the EU doesn't want to talk until the UK actually leaves.

Not surprising because talking before gives negotiating advantage to the UK, and talking after to the EU,

and since the EU can't force the UK to press the button,

there's a sort of negotiating stalemate.

Finally, because there's really no procedure for anything,

the only correct answer to "What happens next?" is...

"Who knows!"

We are standing in a fog with naught but speculation, so...

Speculation time!

Acting as a Brexit bookie, I'm putting 15% odds on the chance of Maximum Brexit occurring,

where the UK is a fully independent nation, with total control over her trade deals and immigration and laws.

The UK is to the EU as Brazil is to the EU: just another country.

If that probability seems low, what with the new pro-Brexit Prime Minister,

and with the required going against the will of the people and all,

here's my reasoning why. Speculation the 1st:

The Conservatives didn't want the UK to really leave the EU.

Though they campaigned for the referendum, they were officially neutral on the issue,

and, I suspect, privately against.

If you think the Conservatives are the more business friendly party,

the UK leaving the EU would be bad news for many businesses

that prefer larger economic blocslike banks.

Pre-2015 election, the Conservatives probably thought

citizens wouldn't really vote for Brexit, so they could safely gamble to sway UKIP voters,

but againsurprise! – 52 to 48.

Even the new prime minister, who's all "Brexit means Brexit",

was against it before she got her current job. Speculation the 2nd:

Some Brexiteers didn't really want to win either. The Brexit campaign admitted after winning,

they have zero plans what to do, which sounds a lot like "We never planned to win."

The leadership of UKIP resignedan odd choice on what should be a theoretical crowning moment of glory,

and after the Conservative Prime Minister resigned, the most prominent Brexiteers didn't want to take the job.

Funny, that.

Also interesting to note: the referendum was set up to have zero legal power,

something all the parties agreed on before hand.

It was essentially an opinion poll, though not at all marketed that way to voters.

All this is to speculate the majority of people in power do not want Brexit to happen.

To be clear, while governments could just totally ignore the vote and still be technically correct,

there's no way that doesn't look horrifically undemocratic.

But, while Brexit was sold on the idea of a stronger independent Britain,

the international markets and national economy have strongly disagreed,

and the geography of the vote have indicated it might not be the whole of Britain leaving.

After the vote, Scotland immediately said that if the UK leaves the EU, Scotland isn't coming.

She voted to stay, so she will.

If maximum Brexit occurs, I put 97% odds on Scotland leaving the UK and staying with the EU.

Add to that, if Scotland leaves, I give 45% odds of Northern Ireland leaving as well,

rejoining Ireland Ireland.

And, crazy as it sounds, if Scotland and Northern Ireland leave,

I'll actually put 5% odds on London leaving England

and becoming an independent city-state in the EU, which would be kind of awesome,

because who doesn't love city-states?

This would leave England and Wales on their own,

and of course while it's possible they'd do just finethere are plenty of comparable independent nations

the international markets have already said "do not want" to just the UK leaving as a whole,

so I wouldn't bet on it being a rosy future,

and it's probably not something many Brexit voters would have picked were it on the referendum.

But even ignoring the breakup of the Union, when thinking about the likelihood of Maximum Brexit,

on one side are the majority of people who voted for it,

and on the other side are the businesses and the politicians,

even, I speculate, many who pretend to be for it.

The politics of power here is why I give such low odds to maximum Brexit,

and why I give 30% odds to the second option: literally, nothing happens.

The UK government plays the stalling game forever, pretending to move forward while doing nothing.

This politically tumultuous time becomes a trivia fact for a future video

about how the UK has been in the process of "leaving" the EU for a hundred years,

like when countries sometimes discover they're technically still at war

because there's an old declaration they forgot to annul.

It's not a great outcome, because governments and businesses and people don't like uncertainty,

but never underestimate the human ability to procrastinate on paperwork.

Even Miss "Brexit means Brexit" is also Miss "Mustn't be too hasty"

about actually pressing the Article 50 button.

But the last option I think is the most likely:

55% odds on a non-Brexit Brexit.

The European Union has many asterisks and layers to her membership.

The UK could leave the European Union,

slide over into the European Economic Area, and be technically correct that she's left the EU.

Actually, before this whole brouhaha, the UK had arranged a deal with the EU

to become more like an EEA member, that was dropped once the referendum started,

but that deal is lying on a table somewhere... (just saying)

This would be the most pure compromise, leaving both sides...


Nothing Brexit voters actually cared about would change:

Immigration, EU membership fees and binding EU laws, all this would remain the same.

The only thing different would be the UK giving up all her representatives in the EU Parliament,

so she would have zero influence on EU law she would still have to follow,

which is not something pro-EU voters probably wanted either.

But nonetheless, I give the greatest odds of this happening

because nothing would change for businesses, making them happy,

and for politicians it's a face-saving maneuver to have "listened to the people" and to "leave"

while doing neither and possibly avoiding the breakup of the United Kingdom.

Who wants to be prime minister during that?

In conclusion: None of these outcomes are clean wins.

The first is very probably the end of the United Kingdom,

and goes against what seems to be economic self-interestbut maybe not, who knows? –

and the other to go against, like, the idea of democracy.

The UK stands at a path that splits into many futures.

Maybe the EU burns herself to the ground due to all her problems,

and "Wales-gland" rises from the ashes a mighty phoenix.

Maybe the UK gets the worst of everything; maybe literally nothing changes.

Which leads where? Which is the best? It's impossible to know.

The UK can only stand in the fog, speculate, and pick a path.

Good luck, United Kingdom, whatever you choose to do.

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Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Place your bets.

The Description of Brexit, Briefly