DEFINITION of ‘Brexit’
The Brexit, an abbreviation of “British exit” that mirrors the term Grexit, refers to the possibility of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. A number of British political parties support a referendum on EU membership; the most prominent are the Conservative Party, which has promised a 2017 in/out referendum if it wins the May 2015 General Election, and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which was founded in 1991 (under a different name) to oppose Britain’s membership in the EU. A surge in the UKIP’s popularity in 2013 probably prompted the Conservatives to announce support for a referendum in that year.
INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘Brexit’
Supporters of the Brexit base their opinion on a variety of factors from the global competitiveness of British businesses to concerns about immigration. Britain has already opted out of the EU’s monetary union, meaning that it uses the pound sterling (GBP) instead of the euro, and the Schengen Area, meaning that it does not share open borders with a number of other European states. Popular support for an in/out referendum has varied over time, as has support for an “out” vote.
The issue is interrelated with Scotland’s continued inclusion in the United Kingdom. In the wake of a “no” vote on the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the Scottish National Party (SNP) gained unprecedented support. The party’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, opposes a UK-wide referendum on EU membership, saying that Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland should vote separately, and that a unanimous “out” vote should be required for Britain to leave the EU.