Brexit: ‘I think it’s a complete mess’

| Jelle Posthuma

Theresa May’s Brexit deal suffered a historic defeat in the British Parliament yesterday. ‘A bizarre situation,’ says UT researcher Kevin Macnish. The Assistant Professor of Ethics and IT is from England himself, but he doesn’t feel insecure about his own situation in Twente.

Photo by: Mark Webster

Macnish is watching the Brexit developments ‘reasonably close’. ‘I think it's a complete mess,’ he says. ‘For me the referendum went in the wrong direction to begin with, since I voted remain. The referendum was an unfortunate mistake. Now the UK is in this bizarre position. For me personally the situation doesn’t bring insecurity. I don’t think my job at the UT will be in danger. However, this insecurity is very bad for businesses and for Europe that still has the uncertainty of how much Britain will pay to leave the EU.’

Economic versus political

In its view on the EU the UK ideologically differs from continental Europe, the Assistant Professor says. ‘Historically, the Brits see the European Union mostly as an opportunity for a free trade zone. Whereas the continent puts more emphasis on the political importance of the EU: to stop Germany and France from going to war again. Nevertheless, a majority of the younger voters in Britain chose for remain, because they grew up with the European Union and see themselves as Europeans. But then again, it is frustrating to see that a major part of them didn’t show up at the referendum. I think it stems from political disillusionment.’

Divided

Macnish can’t see how Brussels and Britain will come to a deal. ‘Since the two parties are at radically different places. Maybe the negotiators of both parties will agree, but then the British Parliament will reject the deal, as we saw yesterday. I think May will come back to Parliament on Monday and ask for an extension. The best we can hope for is a managed split or a next referendum. There’s a good argument for a new vote: the public is better informed than last time. The new referendum should have two options: remain or leave with no deal. One thing is for sure, if they decide to have another referendum, I will be voting.’