Economy & Politics

A Brexit retrospective in Monty Python sketches

The Monty Python comedian troupe is divided on Brexit.imago images / Everett Collection

The UK-EU trade agreement comes into force today. The UK actually left the EU at the end of January 2020. Since then, almost everything has stayed the same during the transition phase. That is now the end: Today Great Britain is also leaving the European single market and the customs union. Since the British voted to leave the European Union more than four and a half years ago, Brexit has become a constant topic and has caused numerous curious situations. Time to take a slightly different look back at important key data in Brexit history – with the most famous British comedian group Monty Python.

The rift that has ripped through the British population since the referendum is also evident in Monty Python. While John Cleese is an avowed supporter of Brexit and has repeatedly spoken out in favor of Britain leaving the EU on Twitter, his colleague Eric Idle, among others, disagrees. He called Brexit “stupid” on Twitter.

The Leave Campaign

“Britain sends the EU 50 million pounds a day – let’s promote our national health service instead.” The tenor: The EU is expensive, we give more than we get in return – or based on Monty Python: What has the EU ever done for us?

June 23, 2016: The British are voting for Brexit

The historic referendum came out very close: with 52 percent, the majority voted for leaving the EU. As it turned out, it was mainly the older generations who ultimately decided the choice. A survey by the polling institute YouGov and the newspaper “The Times” showed that while 63 percent of Britons over 65 were in favor of Brexit, 80 percent of 18 to 24 year olds were in favor of remaining in the EU. An analysis by Sky News also showed that the younger the British, the lower the turnout. So it came about that the older generation probably decided on Brexit.

Brexit and the tabloids

The British tabloids clearly positioned themselves on Brexit. A research institute at Oxford University, which is co-financed by Thomson Reuters, found that almost half of the titles were clearly in favor of Brexit, and 27 percent were significantly fewer in favor of remaining in the EU. And even after the referendum, some newspapers continued to praise the upcoming EU exit.

January to May 2019: Dispute over the Brexit agreement in the British Parliament

Theresa May receives one defeat after another in the British Parliament. On January 15, the House of Commons rejected the negotiated Brexit agreement, and an improved agreement also fell through on March 12. Parliament cannot agree on another option either: the MPs are voting against a no-deal Brexit, against a second referendum, against eight Brexit variants from their own ranks and again against a proposal by Theresa May. This will finally take place on May 24th back. The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte compares the Prime Minister with the knight from the Monty Python film “The Holy Grail”. His arms and legs are chopped off, but he doesn’t give in and ultimately insists on a “draw”. “I’m not blaming them, I’m blaming British politics,” Rutte told the Dutch broadcaster WNL.

December 2020: Fishing rights threaten to prevent the agreement

At the last second, a seemingly minor point of contention ensures that a no-deal Brexit still seems likely. Controversial issues on three issues stand in the way of the agreement: fair competition, the question of enforcing the agreements – and fishing rights. In fact, fishing in Great Britain accounts for a minimal part of the gross domestic product, but the issue is ideologically charged: the demand to regain control of British territorial waters was important for the Brexit campaign. Many fishermen also voted for Brexit. Many of them do not agree with the agreement that was finally reached. They accuse Boris Johnson of cheating on them, after all, he promised them the rights to all fish in British waters. However, this would not happen with the negotiated agreement.

12.2020: Agreement at the last second

Shortly before the deadline, the UK and the EU agree on a trade deal. The document is a total of 1246 pages. The EU states and Great Britain do not have much time to examine the agreement. They still have to agree by the end of 2020 so that the agreement can come into force at least provisionally in 2021. But probably the biggest milestone has been reached four and a half years after the referendum: there is an agreement.

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