Jan. 31 marked the long-awaited exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. This means that the U.K. has now entered a transition period of 11 months where they continue to obey all the rules of the EU, however, they no longer have political representation in the European parliament.
For those not up to speed with the timeline of Brexit: in 2016, the U.K. — comprised of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — voted to leave the EU. This began the tumultuous and tedious process of coming up with an exit deal that was suitable to both the EU and British parliaments. It then took the U.K. a little more than three and a half years and three deadline extensions to finally come to a (less than suitable) agreement.
While the drama surrounding Brexit is quite entertaining on its own, it has brought to our attention that maybe the U.S. is much more similar to the U.K. than it would like to admit. Given the trials and tribulations of Brexit, here are some lessons that Americans can learn from the U.K.’s blunder as they enter the 2020 election season.
Following the 2016 referendum, Google revealed that the top two Google searches in the U.K. were “What does it mean to leave the EU?” and “What is the EU?” respectively. This is quite alarming, as it indicates that a significant portion of the population did not know what they were voting on and could have been simply voting along party lines, a trend we see far too often here in the United States. Educating the voting population is important in ensuring people vote based on the merits of policy and not merely for political parties.
Adding to the tribulations is the fact that many British expats living in the EU and elsewhere were not allowed to vote. Around 60 percent of the estimated 4.9 million British citizens living overseas could not vote due to a rule that had been set to be abolished in 2015, a year before the Brexit referendum.