Politics really isn’t simple at the moment, things are changing every day and no one seems to know what’s coming next! That's why we've teamed up with Voting Counts to give you on update on what's actually going on right now.
Over on the UNiDAYS Instagram we asked you for your questions about UK Politics so we can help guide you on your way to becoming a political genius.
Let's start with UK Politics generally…
What is happening?
Brexit seems to be the only game in town at the moment, but while it dominates the headlines it’s not the only thing MPs in Westminster are looking at.
Just this week for example, MPs will be debating school opening hours, non-surgical cosmetic procedures, special educational needs and disabilities funding, and human rights in the UK.
There’s also a lot of internal politics going on within the political parties, with divisions opening up in both the Conservatives and Labour - which all feeds into the Brexit debate too.
Outside of Westminster there’s plenty of politics happening a bit closer to home. Local councillors are making decisions about what to fund and what to do in your local area, just like MPs do, but the things they discuss affect us much more day to day, stuff like recycling, parks, social services, housing, and buses!
What elections are coming up?
Although we keep hearing rumours that there might be an early General Election (where you vote for your local MP), we don’t know for sure that one will happen before 2022. Instead, the next big round of elections that are definitely coming up are the Local Elections (where you vote for local councillors) on May 2nd.
Your local council has an impact on many of the services you use every day, including housing, transport, and public spaces like parks and libraries. Choices made by the council will have a visible impact on both your day-to-day life and your community, so it’s important that you’re part of choosing who makes these decisions.
Local elections are a great opportunity to vote for representatives who have a similar vision for your community as you do.
You can find out more about the local elections on our website!
The thing to remember about Brexit is that it really is changing every day. We don’t know the full details about how Brexit will affect our lives, or what our relationship with Europe will be, until the Government finalises a deal (or decides to leave with no deal) - they’re working on this at the moment and everything should be a little clearer in a month or so…we hope!
What are the Pros and Cons of Brexit?
Again, at this stage it is difficult to answer this question accurately, as there are different pros and cons depending on how we leave the EU - with a deal or not.
In summary, many people wanted to leave the EU to ‘regain sovereignty’ (or control over laws). Within the EU, the UK has to abide by laws set by the European Parliament. While we might agree with some of these laws, there are others that people dislike and many ‘Brexiteers’ wanted to make sure decisions affecting the UK were solely made in the UK, rather than in the EU where our representatives might have to find compromise with the other 27 countries.
Others felt too detached from the EU. Turnout for the UK in the 2014 European elections was just 34% (compared to 68% in the 2017 General Elections), which suggested that most people were disengaged or disenchanted with European Union politics. This low turnout feeds into a conversation over how democratic the EU may be, as so few people in the UK have their say over who is making decisions on our behalf.
Another argument often used when looking at the ‘benefits’ of Brexit is trade. At the moment, the UK trades via the EU and can’t make its own trade deals. Brexiteers have suggested they’d like to see us having closer trading relationships with Commonwealth countries like India, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as develop our own ties with strong/growing economies like the US or China.
On the other side of the argument, ‘Remainers’ think that Brexit could cause a lot of instability in the economy as some companies may decide to move their businesses out of the UK or have their business disrupted in the face of Brexit, resulting in job losses. The EU is also our biggest trading partner, so depending on the type of Brexit we have, it might make it more difficult to trade with our neighbours across the English Channel.
We have also been involved in the ‘European project’ (that led to and includes the EU) for over 40 years, and over that time our laws, people and businesses have become increasingly connected. So, some are concerned that leaving may be disruptive, as many people have enjoyed being able to live, work, study, and trade freely as members of the EU.
There is also growing concern over the instability caused by Brexit in both our political and social lives. Some people are concerned that the divisive nature of Brexit has allowed politics to become very polarising, splitting people into opposing camps, with passionate arguments from both sides which can cause debates to become heated.
Obviously all of the above is a simplified view of a complex debate, and many people have lots of different reasons for voting the way they did. So while you might not agree with someone about Brexit, we at Voting Counts believe it’s much more important to have a respectful discussion to understand the views of others, rather than a shouting match (as tempting as that might be!).
What is the backstop?
The backstop is a bit like an insurance policy which aims to maintain an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event that the UK and EU cannot agree a trade deal, which is due to be negotiated after we leave the EU.
Because the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (as part of the UK) are members of the EU, both can have their goods, services, and people move freely across the border. But, after Brexit the two sides could have different rules in place, which could mean checks at the border.
Whilst border checks are common between many countries across the world, the complex history of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland means that a ‘hard’ border might cause old tensions to flare up again.
Some politicians dislike the backstop because it could still leave the UK under some of the EU’s rules without the UK having any influence over what those rules look like. Meanwhile, others believe the backstop is the price to pay to maintain peace on the island of Ireland. However, it is important to note that both the EU and the UK have stated that they do not want trade talks to break down and result in the use of the backstop, instead both sides want to find a solution that avoids them having to use this insurance policy.
Will I still be able to go on holiday?
If there is a Brexit deal, EU and UK citizens will continue to be able to travel freely with a passport or identity card until the end of 2020. Beyond that there are plans to ensure we won’t need a visa to travel for short stays, but we will have to pay a £6.30 fee (which covers you for three years).
If there is no deal, things might be a bit more uncertain. However the EU have said they’d like to offer UK nationals 90 days visa free travel whatever happens, as long as the UK reciprocates for EU citizens!
Find out more on local elections by visiting our website.
Even more from UNiDAYS
We bring the best discounts from the best brands to college and uni students, as well as exclusive videos, articles and loads of tips and advice to make your student life even better - all for free!
- Join now or log in to start saving on everything from food comas and fashion to (finally) getting fitter.
- Verify now to start saving on everything from food comas and fashion to (finally) getting fitter.
- Got a lot to say? We're always looking for awesome guest bloggers. Get in touch with your ideas!