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The European Union: How does it work?

The European Union: How does it work? (5th edn)

Daniel Kenealy, John Peterson, and Richard Corbett
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date: 11 December 2023

p. 21610. Brexit and the Future of Two Unionslocked

p. 21610. Brexit and the Future of Two Unionslocked

  • Daniel Kenealy,
  • John Peterson
  •  and Richard Corbett


This chapter considers the impact of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) decision to leave the EU. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum on continuing its EU membership. The UK voted to leave the EU by a narrow margin, but one large enough for its new Prime Minister (after David Cameron, who called the referendum, resigned), Theresa May, to call ‘Brexit’ (the process of Britain exiting the EU) ‘the settled will of the British people’. The result sent shock waves across Europe. This chapter seeks to explain how and why the Brexit vote occurred and what might happen—both to the UK and to the EU—as a result. Possible outcomes of the negotiations on Brexit are considered with a view to assessing their impact on the UK, the EU, and the future of European integration.

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