It is one of the more storied relationships in the way of countries. The UK and EU is a relationship that has seen a number of ups and downs. All of that came to a halt in 2016, when a good portion of the UK voted to leave the EU. It was a move that both shocked and yet did not shock. Depending on where you stood in relation to the issue, you were either amazed or saw it coming. The question has to be asked, why do people in the UK have such a strained relationship for those in the EU? Most of the people that go to Europe love all that; there is to offer in the area. Between the food and the sights, many in the UK have gone on to move to European countries. To fully understand the elements at play that got us to this point, you need to understand the history between the UK and the EU.
The UK’s Efforts Begin
In 1961, Britain applied twice to join the EU. This was both times shot down by French President Charles De Gaulle who said the country had motives for wanting to join the EU or EEC as it was known back then. The feeling was that they were more interested in interests over in the United States than they were over in Europe. Finally, in 1973 with all of the pieces in place, it was time for them to finally become a member. A vote of 67% should have put an end to the debate, but instead, there was not the economic boom as had been promised, instead it was still a slow trickle that seemed to flow in both directions and things seemed to only be getting worse for the UK. They were looking at inflation that was in double digits and as a result a lot of people wondered if letting the UK in was as good of an idea as they had thought it was. To say that the 1970’s were not a good time for the UK was an understatement and that as a result led to a lot of people wanting to get rid of the UK, but the process to kick out was a lot harder than opening the door to let them in.
The “Iron Lady” Rallies to Gain Support for the EU
The 1980’s were hoped to be a little more settled and it seemed as though things might begin the process of getting that way, until the divide between Britain and Brussels began to get wider and wider. Margret Thatcher was doing her best to seal up the wounds, but the injuries to the relationship seemed to be taking their toll and the relationship seemed to be getting more and more strained. Not only did other countries think that letting the UK in was a bad idea, member countries of the UK began to question if they were backing the right movement. Chaos seemed to be reigning and there was no apparent end to all of the confusion. It could be said that Margret Thatcher gave her political career in order to save the UK from leaving the EU. Her downfall was tied very heavy to the efforts that she placed in trying to save her one cause that she believed so strongly in.
The Relationship gets better
The late 90’s saw a new era in relations between the UK and the EU. Tony Blair went a long way to try and patch things up between the two sides. This as a result made things look like the relationship was turning a corner and all the ugliness that had happened in the years past was finally over with. This was a false sense of hope as eventually things would break down and lead to a relationship that was in some regards more strained than it had been prior to the Tony Blair era. This was the first real sign that the two sides simply could not work together. David Cameron was the first British PM to block a treaty that came from Europe and that act alone set him apart from a lot of the other leaders in the EU as they looked at him and wondered if the sentiment that De Galle had expressed all those years back was really the truth. This also meant that the icy reception that the UK got already was about to get a lot colder.
The UK Leaves the EU
Finally, in 2016 what has started in 1961 and was approved in the mid 70’s was undone when the people of the UK went to the poles and voted for them to leave the EU. This finally was the sign that the UK was tired of the EU and that they wanted to take their countries in a new direction. If this was a good thing or a bad thing has yet to be seen and who knows, the UK may one day, find themselves knocking at the door of the EU once again; until that time, it is safe to say that the UK is good with the way things stand between them and the EU.
It is obvious that anyone that has studied any history of the UK, that they are not in need as much as the EU is in need of them. The UK and its member have taken the first steps needed to show that they are able to stand without support and that the EU will not hold them down under their treaties and rules. Many people will say that if you had left it up to the people to begin with, that they would have never even voted in 61 to join the EU.
The anti-Europe sentiment was apparent in the fact that the vote was not even as close as many experts had said that it was expected to be. Time will be the ultimate measure as to if this was the right decision but if you ask some in the UK, they will tell you that this was a move that was long overdue and one that will lead the UK in a better brighter future.
As was stated in the beginning, this was one of the rockier relationships that the world has seen in quite some time and one that will have an impact on the rest of the world. Just like with people when two countries break up, there is always those that get in the middle and are involved. France and Germany are a classic example of this as they are seemingly experiencing their own issues with the topic of Frexit being talked about as of late. This could be the beginning of a lot of countries deciding that if the UK can do it, then they can leave as well and be just as happy without the EU as they are with it.