The Portrait of A Messy Brexit


Writer: Rafatul I.

Visual: Somya D., Sirah D.

Editor: Kay S. 

On January 29th, the E.U. chamber’s vice-president, Mairead McGuiness, turned off Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage’s microphone. She then instructed everyone: “Please sit down, resume your seats, put your flags away and take them with you if you’re leaving now.” (Hockaday). This anti-climactic ending to the tumultuous “Leave” process that began on the 23rd of June in 2016 was somewhat of an antidote to years of turbulence under Theresa May. With a strong majority in the House of Commons, the Conservative Party is looking to enter new negotiations with Britain, the E.U., and the rest of the world. With Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the helm, there are several key objectives for the UK going forward. These include economic reinvigoration through liberalizing trade and promoting international free trade, preserving the British national identity, and resolving domestic political issues. A particularly contentious political issue thus far has been immigration laws. These objectives are a stark realist backlash to the Western Liberalism that has guided the E.U. for the past 26 years. The exit is forecast to have a global impact as Reeshee (12) notes, “I’ll be keeping a close watch on when the E.U. and UK reach a new trade agreement within the next 11 months.”

But, Britain’s work wasn’t always cut out so easily for them. Euroscepticism, criticisms of the E.U. and E.U. integration, rose to prominence during the height of the European Union membership referendum in 2016. The highly publicized “failings” of Theresa May to negotiate a successful Brexit that appeased the needs of both the UK and the E.U. led to votes of no-confidence, a resignation, and then a transition to Hard-Brexiteer Boris Johnson. Overall, Eurosceptic rhetoric so far has covered expensive E.U. membership contributions; a restriction of free trade and investment; hampered sovereignty, job security, national security; and immigration (“Brexit: the Pros and Cons.”). Famed Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz’s criticism of the chains of the E.U.’s currency union have also contributed to Eurosceptic sentiment. As a result, Reeshee (12) heeds, “With rise of anti-E.U. politicians in many E.U. countries, I wonder who may follow in the UK’s footsteps in the coming years.” In this regard, the disruptive change Brexit has caused may not be such a bad thing by allowing for a rebuilding of the British economy free from E.U. interference for long-term macroeconomic gains.

This raises the perennial question: What if Brexit works? Although what I’ve read and heard about Brexit: that it may result in a loss of consumer and business confidence, capital flight, and wreak havoc on Britain’s economy, I can’t help but consider the option that this long-and-twisted path may indeed work out successfully for the UK. The key issue is time pressure: after Britain formally left, they were given an 11 month transition period during which to negotiate deals with the E.U., including a full-fledged free-trade deal. Though many see this as an insurmountable hurdle, the Tory majority in the House of Commons should allow policymaking to speed through. Maybe the portrait of a messy Brexit was overhasty after all. 

Works Cited

“Brexit: the Pros and Cons.” The Week UK,

Hockaday, James. “EU Tells Nigel Farage to ‘Leave and Take His Flags with Him’ during Final Speech.” Metro,, 30 Jan. 2020,

Works Consulted 

“Boris Johnson Sets Course for the Hardest Possible Brexit Deal.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper,

Landler, Mark. “What If Brexit Works?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Feb. 2020,