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University of Botswana to offer Brexit course

Tuesday August 20 2019

Brexit

People walk past European Union and British flags. The University of Botswana's history department will offer a course about Brexit, the UK's plan to leave the European Union. PHOTO | AFP 

BBC
By BBC
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A course about Brexit, the UK's plan to leave the European Union, is to be offered as an option by the University of Botswana's history department.

The course, called Modern Britain, will "study the crisis" as it happens, a notice shared on Twitter said.

Students will, however, not sit for an exam.

Bruce Bennett from the university confirmed to the BBC that the course will be offered.

"[It] is intended to link the present crisis, which is of interest to many people, to the historical background," he said.

He said that as an elective course students from other departments would be able to take it.

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"There has been interest from students from across the university, including of course political science but not limited to them."

He added that other major events in British history would also be covered.

"This semester the British history course will focus on the Brexit crisis, as it happens, in combination with relevant British history. This historical background includes both relatively recent events such as the Northern Irish Troubles and the Good Friday agreement, and the deeper background."

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BREXIT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

What does Brexit mean?

Brexit comes from merging the words Britain and exit. It is a word that is used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU.

Why is Britain leaving the European Union?

A referendum - a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part - was held on Thursday June 23, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. The referendum turnout was 71.8 percent, with more than 30 million people voting.

What is the European Union?

The European Union - often known as the EU - is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together were more likely to avoid going to war with each other.

It has since grown to become a "single market" allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas - including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things such as mobile phone charges.

When is the UK due to leave the EU?

The UK had been due to leave on March 29, 2019, two years after it started the exit process by invoking Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty. But the withdrawal agreement reached between the EU and UK has been rejected three times by UK MPs.

Having granted an initial extension of the Article 50 process until April 12, 2019, EU leaders have now backed a six-month extension until October 31, 2019. However, the UK will leave before this date if the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the UK and the EU before then.

So is Brexit definitely happening?

As things stand, the UK is due to leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on October 31, 2019. If the UK and EU ratify the withdrawal agreement before then, the UK will leave on the first day of the following month.

But could Brexit be cancelled?

Yes. Stopping Brexit would require a change in the law in the UK, something neither the government nor the main UK opposition parties want to do at this point. The European Court of Justice ruled on December 10, 2018 that the UK could cancel the Article 50 Brexit process without the permission of the other 27 EU members, and remain a member of the EU on its existing terms, provided the decision followed a "democratic process", in other words, if Parliament voted for it. In March, an online petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked gained over six million signatures.

Could Brexit be delayed?

The EU has said the Brexit process should not be extended again beyond October 31, 2019, but legally speaking another extension could happen if all EU countries, including the UK, agree to it.

Could UK leave without a deal?

Yes. This is the so-called no-deal Brexit.

What would happen if the UK left without a deal?

The UK would sever all ties with the EU with immediate effect, with no transition period and no guarantees on citizens' rights of residence. The government fears this would cause significant disruption to businesses in the short-term, with lengthy tailbacks of lorries at the channel ports, as drivers face new checks on their cargos. Food retailers have warned of shortages of fresh produce and the NHS is stockpiling medicines, in case supplies from EU countries are interrupted. Government ministers and multinational companies with factories in the UK have also warned about the long-term impact on the British economy. Brexit-supporting MPs claim it would not be as bad as they say and the UK would save on the £39bn divorce bill, as well as being free to strike its own beneficial trade deals around the world.

Would trade with the EU continue?

The World Trade Organisation sets rules for countries that don't have free trade deals with each other, including tariffs - the taxes charged on the import of goods. Without an agreement on trade, the UK would trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules.

Will the UK be able to rejoin the EU in the future?

BBC Europe editor Katya Adler says the UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate, and enter accession talks with the EU. Every member state would have to agree to the UK re-joining. But she says with elections looming elsewhere in Europe, other leaders might not be generous towards any UK demands. New members are required to adopt the euro as their currency, once they meet the relevant criteria, although the UK could try to negotiate an opt-out.