In this essay, I will present 3 or more reasons, citing textual evidence that answers the essential question, “What were the reasons the British people chose to leave the EU?”, and close with how it relates to today.
First, the VAT on products, living costs, and wage differences throughout the EU countries, are why the British chose to leave the EU. According to “17 Reasons To Love Brexit” by Anthony Brown, he quotes, “But what is impossible in the EU becomes possible outside… the government could scrap the hideously complex VAT system -- a job creation scheme for accountants we had to bring in when we joined the EU… and go back to the simple purchase tax we had before”(para 5). The problem arose when the EU started implementing taxes-- not on the trading of goods-- but on living costs. Richer countries, primarily in Western Europe, have higher working wages for jobs, but higher living costs. As a result, the taxes paid by citizens are all enforced by the EU, which takes all of this money and distributes it to the poorer EU countries (Central and Eastern Europe.) Imagine that you just want to pay your domestic gas and electricity bills, when you are suddenly faced with value-added tax, or VAT. Then, some of this money goes to support child benefit payments to those who don’t live in the UK, a place far away from your own country. Although sharing the money isn’t bad, there are many downsides to having high living costs. Companies in richer countries sometimes move their production to poorer EU countries due to lower manufacturing costs and worker payment. This is an effective way to equalize the countries’ economies, but it also restricts it. There are decreases in job opportunities for workers in Western Europe as Central and Eastern Europe gains more job choices. With higher VAT and living costs, the risk of work movement increases (for example, someone in a richer country might move to a poorer country just to relieve the living costs; the same can be reversed in another situation where someone in a poorer country moves to the richer country for jobs.) Although the EU allows more lenient movement between countries, it becomes more risky for jobs. As a company gains more workers, the business doesn’t have an infinite supply of money. This could lead to lower wages to help distribute the payments to the workers; all of this is caused by people from poorer countries moving to richer countries for work. Although the EU allows more lenient travel between countries, it becomes more risky for jobs.
Second, EU rules enforces Air Passenger Duty heavily, which discourages long-distance travel in the EU and prevents train system wholesale nationalization. According to “17 Reasons To Love Brexit” by Anthony Browne, the text quotes, “There was a huge national moan when duty free for passengers travelling to Europe was abolished, because it conflicted with EU single market rules”(para 9). Although the EU allows easy travel between countries, there is an extra tax, or Air Passenger Duty, enforced with long-distance flights. This was intended to decrease environmental pollution, but primarily made to raise more money, but there were many negative effects. Easy travel access between countries, yet the extra costs scared off EU citizens. This forces people to spend more money on multiple shorter-distance trips; for example, to get from the UK to Germany, you would need to buy numerous smaller flights to reach your destination, just to avoid Air Passenger Duty. However, despite this, the method can be much more expensive than Air Passenger Duty, but sometimes people favor one over the other just because it doesn’t have “extra cost” written all over it. Additionally, air transportation isn’t the only thing affected by the EU’s extensive laws. The EU’s Fourth Railway Package transports goods that are operated by one single company. In simpler terms, the products of an individual are all on one train, instead of various company products, also known as wholesale nationalization. However, wholesale nationalization contradicts the EU’s Fourth Railway Package as it decreases marketing competition. For example, if there was one single train dedicated to one company, more products can be exported, whereas a cluster of products decreases space for each company. Unfortunately, the EU’s method restricts all transportation control to a single organization. This can lead to high competition in the market, and although it helps companies reach their full potential, smaller companies will struggle at the start; they are fighting over who gets which train and which route is the fastest and cheapest.
Third, the poor conditions of live animal exports can stress the animals, increase the chances of diseases/germs caught, and lower the animal product quality. According to “17 Reasons To Love Brexit” by Anthony Brown, he quotes, “In the 1990s, there were endless protests along the coast against exporting live lambs and calves for slaughter in Europe. The government wanted to ban the exports, but couldn’t because of EU rules”(para 6). Livestock are forced into a cramped space, with numbers in the thousands. The Council Regulation has enforced protection laws for these animals, but they still aren’t enough, and the few times when there has been a modification, only the current regulations were reinforced and supported. Cramped animal spaces can cause stress on them, and infant calves can easily be seperated from their mothers and never come back; many say that an infant should only be seperated from their parent for less than 19 hours. If more than 19 hours pass, then the calf will experience increased heart rate, leading to higher blood pressure. Not only that, but the live animal conditions also affect people when we buy the animal products. Ssince they all distribute their waste in the same area, germs and diseases can be caught easily. All of these factors are not only cruel, but also can affect the quality of food products from these animals; the possiblity of death during exportation isn’t impossible either. Unfortunately, the EU government hasn’t done much to fix the conditions of live animal exports, and few who don’t follow the rules for the sake of the animals are often punished. The cruel environment during long-distance export protests was reignited in November 2019, when 14,000 sheep on a boat sank in the Black Sea. No matter how hard animal welfare groups tried, their voices meant almost nothing to the EU government; they think that if modifications were made, the EU’s economy will be gravely affected due to lack of mass animal exports. For the sake of the live lambs and the people who use those animal products, this is one of the many reasons why the UK left the EU.
To sum everything up, the EU enforces extensive VATs, Air Passenger Duty over long flights, denies wholesale nationalization of the train system, and ignores the conditions of live animal exports. The essential question, “What were the reasons the British people chose to leave the EU?” relates to today with voiced opinions. Every since the UK left the EU, and with the pandemic occurring not too long after, the country is struggling, though the information is rather vague. But it is most likely that the UK--now having to be independent and not receiving support from the EU and the trading/transportation regulations during the pandemic-- isn’t looking too good. However, despite the cons, there are many pros to leaving the EU. One of the root problems of the EU’s extensive laws was the opinions that the members voiced out. The EU government is a system that works above all of the EU country’s systems, meaning the EU government has more power; and with that higher power comes power imbalance. Members have to always follow the rules and orders given by the EU, even when they don’t agree with each other. Often, the EU’s interests are placed as a higher priority than the country’s own interests. An example of this is that the wealthier countries are often charged against their will with higher taxes to provide for the poorer countries. Additionally, since the EU is all about supranational cooperation, there have been circumstances where members are demanded to work together on common issues; this is equivalent to a parent forcing a random kid on the playground to be your best friend. Additionally, as the size of the EU grows, there are many who are afraid of losing their national identity through the varying cultures, beliefs, religions, traditions, and values. An example of this is the bullfighting tradition in Spain that contradicts with the other EU countries, thinking that bullfighting is cruel. With the large quantities of countries, there is bound to be arguments due to their differences. And through the 20 different languages in the EU, it is hard for someone--not just the government countries-- to have their voices heard. In the US, we are part of a republic, where many voices are heard. The British chose to leave so they could choose their business partners, enforce their own tax, protect livestock exporting, remove transportation charges, support challenger banks, decide how children benefits are distributed, create their own train system, and most importantly, make their own decisions so their voices can be heard.