United Kingdom Cabinet
Letter from the Director.
My name is Lauren Radigan and I will be the director of the United Kingdom Cabinet and the Health Council for Yale Model Government Europe (YMGE) 2018! I am a sophomore at Yale University and I am planning to pursue a double major in Political Science and Psychology. Outside of class, I am involved with YIRA as a chair for Yale Model United Nations (YMUN) and Security Council Simulation at Yale (SCSY). Other than YIRA, I am involved with an organization called Every Vote Counts, which serves to increase voter turnout in US elections by encouraging registration among young voters and trying to remove voting barriers. I am looking forward to being your director for this conference!
I decided to become a director for YMGE because of my interest in European Union politics and my desire to help younger generations gain more political knowledge and become political thinkers. The United Kingdom is a particularly interesting nation to focus on at this time as they are moving forward with their official exit from the EU. The repercussions of the departure of the United Kingdom will be a major issue for not only the UK but the rest of EU nations. The United Kingdom’s last few months in the EU will certainly be difficult ones as they struggle to make final negotiations with the EU and decide what they want their future relationship with Europe to look like.
The Health Council of the EU is constantly facing new challenges as human needs change and medicine evolves, making it a very interesting focal point for this conference. The multi-faceted nature of the health council makes it a fast paced council as it must tackle a variety of issues in a limited amount of time.
The information provided should help you prepare for your respective cabinet or council, and I look forward to seeing you all in November!
The cabinet of the United Kingdom has a rich history, from its roots in the 15th and 16th centuries as a “Privy Council”, a committee consisting of the monarch’s closest advisors intended to advise the monarch confidentially on state affairs. It was not until 1644 that the term “cabinet” was officially used to describe this executive body, and it was not until the reign of King George I that the cabinet gained the importance and acclaim within the government that it has today. The modern cabinet system however, was not consolidated until the early 20th century under Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Under the modern system of organization, the cabinet is composed of the Prime Minister and 21 cabinet ministers. Due to the increasing role of the Prime Minister as head of government in the United Kingdom, ministers are appointed and dismissed by the Prime Minister. As the monarch in the United Kingdom has taken on more of a figurehead role and assumes only head of state functions, the Prime Minister retains appointment powers as the prime minister is appointed by the monarch based on his or her ability to command a majority vote in the House of Commons. (https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers)
The cabinet meets on a fairly regular basis, usually weekly. The cabinet will discuss the most important ongoing policy issues and make decisions regarding how to move forward. The cabinet will discuss a variety of issues ranging from newly proposed legislation in the Commons to more specific areas headed by their respective ministers. The graphic below should provide some guidance as to the variety of issues the cabinet typically handles. While we likely will not touch on all of these issues, it is good to be aware of the issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the cabinet.
Background: Brexit and its Consequences
Prior to its movement for withdrawal, the United Kingdom had been a pivotal player in the European Union. The United Kingdom has played a vital role in funding EU projects as it is one of the wealthier nations in the union. However, this is one of the reasons for Brexit as many believe there are nations in the EU that do not pull their economic weight and allow the majority of funding for EU projects to come from the EU’s wealthier members. In the past, the United Kingdom has had conflicts with the EU leading to a growing sentiment of Euroscepticism and eventually culminating in the Brexit referendum and the United Kingdom’s formal departure from the EU. This is only one of the many reasons the United Kingdom is moving forward with the Brexit initiative. Other reasons for Brexit include the political pressures imposed by the EU regarding the immigration crisis, the economic downfall of the Euro and EU economic institutions, and the growing feeling that the EU was depriving the UK of total sovereignty. Essentially, the United Kingdom wanted to be its own sovereign country and not simply a part of the greater European scheme.
Brexit will leave the United Kingdom with a plethora of new domestic and foreign policy issues. Besides the issue of struggling to negotiate policy with EU nations in the months leading up to their departure and maintaining friendly relations with their allies and neighbors, there are many other issues of international relations that the United Kingdom will need to address.
Establishing Borders: The Schengen Area and Free Trade
Following its exit from the EU, the United Kingdom will need to decide how it will handle immigration and if it wants to be a part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area allows for free mobility of peoples within many European nations which makes it easy for Europeans to travel and live within Europe without issue. The United Kingdom will need to evaluate its accomodations for ease of living in comparison with their position on the issue from a homeland security perspective.
Another border issue that arises out of Brexit is whether or not the United Kingdom will try and negotiate a free trade agreement with EU nations. Trade is unrestricted by tariffs and other barriers within the EU, which has been beneficial for all nations including the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will need to offer some form of incentive and reciprocity to the EU nations if they want to maintain their free trade status.
The border of Northern Ireland leaves the United Kingdom in a difficult situation as it will be the only land border the United Kingdom shares with any EU nation after Brexit. As of right now, the border of Northern Ireland is fairly open lacking customs posts and inspections. The establishment of a hard border would have catastrophic consequences for the population living near the border. It poses practicality issues with healthcare access, cell phone coverage, and access to jobs. For some residents near the border, their nearest hospitals are in Northern Ireland which is in the United Kingdom. (https://www.marketplace.org/2018/06/26/world/brexit-creates-problem-northern-irish-border) While the UK is in the EU, these residents have access to these hospitals without issue under their Irish health coverage, but what will be the case after Brexit? Similarly, the EU has banned roaming charges on cell phone plans while travelling within the EU. However when the UK is no longer part of the EU, those living near or crossing the border into Northern Ireland could possibly be charged hefty roaming charges while remaining on the same body of land. Some residents of Ireland and Northern Ireland cross the border every day for work, which would no longer be a feasible possibility if a hard border is imposed. It will need to be decided how to handle those whose lives will be complicated by the imposition of a hard border, and whether or not it is worth establishing. It could exacerbate movements for independence within the region, which would bring yet another issue to the government of the United Kingdom. Considering the majority of people in Northern Ireland did not vote in favor of Brexit, they will not be pleased with the repercussions they must now face as a result.
Funding of EU Projects Already Underway
The United Kingdom is currently involved in EU projects that are set to progress after Brexit. The United Kingdom will need to decide if they will follow through with funding EU projects such as the Horizon 2020 Program, and funding for agricultural transition projects. If the United Kingdom decides to withdraw all funding from EU projects, they will need to face the possible consequence of creating hostilities with some of their allies. The EU has the potential to impose economic hardship on the United Kingdom through tariffs after Brexit so it is important to maintain positive relations with EU members to avoid economic conflicts.
In current political times, the United Kingdom is in a very unique place when it comes to EU relations. As of June 23rd 2016, the United Kingdom has started the process for official withdrawal from the European Union following the Brexit referendum that decided the country’s future proceedings regarding European relations. The United Kingdom will officially exit the European Union on March 23rd 2019 and will have to establish new boundaries for European relations and tackle the variety of issues that will arise out of Brexit. Following the motion for departure, British Prime Minister Theresa May introduced the European Union Withdrawal Act which passed its vote in the House of Commons by a margin of 326 votes to 290 votes. The act became law on June 26th 2018, and the law “fixes the period ending 21 January 2019 for the government to decide on how to proceed if the negotiations have not reached agreement in principle on both the withdrawal arrangements and the framework for the future relationship between the UK and EU; while, alternatively, making future ratification of the withdrawal agreement as a treaty between the UK and EU depend upon the prior enactment of another act of Parliament for approving the final terms of withdrawal when the current Brexit negotiations are completed”. (https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/europeanunionwithdrawal.html) The United Kingdom is still facing harsh criticism for the Brexit decision and many people do not think the UK will be able to find an adequate solution to all the new problems that Brexit has created. Despite critics, the government has not held a follow up referendum as is moving forward with planned proceedings to exit the European Union in March of 2019, leaving limited time to negotiate and plan for the future.
Questions to Consider
- Will the United Kingdom join the Schengen area after their exit from the EU?
How will the United Kingdom handle backlash and possible motions for independence in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
What kind of border restrictions will be imposed in Northern Ireland and how will citizens living near the border be accomodated?
What kind of relationship will the United Kingdom maintain with EU nations in the future?
How will the United Kingdom handle possible trade barriers and economic difficulties following Brexit?
Suggestions for Further Research
Political ideologies and political culture that led to the Brexit referendum
Consider how other EU nations will view the UK after its departure
On what terms would the UK like to leave the EU?
Consider the impact of Brexit on other nations and on specific sectors.
How will Brexit impact the economy of the EU?