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Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been handed a flurry of resignations amid his controversial Internal Market Bill, which the government admitted risks breaching international law. The UK’s envoy on press freedom, Amal Clooney, quit her role “in dismay” at the government’s willingness to break international law over Brexit. The human rights lawyer said it was “lamentable” for Boris Johnson to be contemplating overriding the Brexit agreement he signed last year.
Across the Atlantic, US presidential nominee Joe Biden similarly denounced the move, warning Mr Johnson that a trade agreement would not be reached between the two should Northern Ireland’s peace agreement be compromised.
The controversy revolves around Mr Johnson’s decision to propose new legislation risks breaching the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit divorce treaty that seeks to avoid a physical customs border on the island of Ireland.
Currently, negotiations between the UK and the EU have stalled at every stop, with disagreements focused on areas such as state aid and fishing rights.
The Prime Minister has set an October 15 deadline for any trade agreement to be struck – should a deal fail to materialise, the UK and EU will trade on WTO terms after the transition period ends on January 31.
But, the initial Brexit vote in 2016 risked creating a domino effect across Europe, with most nations experiencing at least a glimmer of discontent with EU membership.
Even before the Brexit vote, unhappiness with Brussels was rife, with a 2016 poll in ultra-developed Sweden finding that should the UK vote Brexit, the majority of Swedes wanted their country to follow suit.
Before the poll, 44 percent of Swedish voters wanted to remain in the bloc, while 32 percent wanted out.
However, when asked if their opinion would change if the UK voted to leave on its historic June 23, 2016 vote, Swedes doubled down on their initial preference.
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According to the poll published by Sifo, 36 percent of Swedes wanted to follow Britain’s path, while 32 percent wished to stay a part of the Union.
Göran von Sydow, a political scientist and researcher at the Swedish Institute for European Political Studies (SIEPS), said: “If there’s going to be a ‘Brexit’, then this would raise so many questions related to the impact on the EU and the Swedish membership.”
He added that Sweden would become more “lonely” when the UK left the EU as they are natural allies both non-eurozone members.
Yet, as the years have progressed, it appears that Sweden, as well as other Nordic countries, has ditched its “Swexit” sentiment.
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Last year, Sweden’s major political parties left any notion of leaving the EU behind – even the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats Party.
It came as party officials cited uncertainty over Brexit and the growing resistance to federalism in many other European parties.
Party leader, Jimmie Akesson, said the party would instead attempt to change the EU from within.
He said: “We will not make any demands for leaving the EU or conducting a referendum.
“There have never been such great opportunities to change the way the EU is functioning from within as today.”
Much anti-EU sentiment burst onto the mainstream in the period after the Brexit vote.
In Italy, shortly after the Brexit vote, the anti-establishment Five Star movement declared it would demand a referendum on the euro.
The party’s leader, Beppe Grillo, went as far as to call for a full referendum on EU membership.
He said: “The mere fact that a country like Great Britain is holding a referendum on whether to leave the EU signals the failure of the European Union.”
Five Star were, at the time, regarded as a transient phenomena, much like the Brexit Party – however, five years on, and Five Star continues to make gains across Italy, having carved a traditional place for itself in the country’s political landscape.
Elsewhere, the French Front National leader, Marie le Pen, rallied her supporters to part from the “decaying” EU.
She said: “I would vote for Brexit, even if I think that France has a thousand more reasons to leave than the UK.”
Ms Le Pen has since backed down on her “Frexit” rhetoric, wishing to reform the EU from within.
Even Holland, considered by many as an EU safe state, showed that many voters wanted a referendum on membership after Brexit.
Mark Rutte, Holland’s Prime Minister, recently clashed with top Brussels officials over an EU stimulus package in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
He conceded to the bloc’s demands, however, with Charles Michel, President of the European Council, describing the event as a “pivotal moment” for European unity.
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