Daily Video

June 20, 2016

Murder of British politician changes tone of U.K. Brexit debate

Essential question

What is the purpose of alliances between groups of nations?

The man accused of murdering a British member of parliament last Thursday made his first court appearance in London on Saturday. Authorities believe Thomas Mair shot and stabbed Jo Cox to death on a street in broad daylight, because of her position to keep the U.K. in the European Union.

Political rallies for and against Britain’s continued membership in the 28-nation European Union were suspended for the weekend following the attack. The British electorate will cast their votes to stay or leave the EU on June 23.

 I think it completely changes the game,” said Jenny Gross of the Wall Street Journal. She said in the days ahead of Cox’s murder, the political rhetoric had become intense, including personal attacks, but since the lawmaker’s death there’s been a reset in tone. Still, Gross said it’s still too soon to say what impact the tragedy will have on the vote.

Supporters on the ‘Bremain’ side—those who wish to remain in the EU—say leaving the European Union will create  “economic chaos” throughout the U.K., Europe and the world.

Those who favor ‘Brexit’—those who wish to exit the EU —say the U.K. will be much better off economically if it can develop its own trade relationships with countries like Brazil or China. Brexit supporters also cite the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and fears that “England is losing its sense of Englishness.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has spent months advocating for Britain to stay in the EU, may have to make the decision to resign after Thursday’s vote, Gross said.

Extension Activities:

Ask your students if they think Britain should stay or leave the European Union? Check out these PBS NewsHour videos to hear both sides of the Brexit debate:

Is the economic cost of Brexit too great? http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/is-the-economic-cost-of-brexit-too-great/

Brexit The Case for Leaving http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/brexit-the-case-for-leaving/

Key terms

European Union — a group of 28 countries that operates as a cohesive economic and political block

referendum — a general vote by the electorate on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. Where is Europe? What are some countries that are members of the European Union?
  2. What is the relationship between Britain, the U.K. and the rest of Europe?
  3. What are some of the foreign policy challenges facing the world today?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Why is the Brexit referendum so controversial?
  2. Why might the decision to leave the European Union have economic repercussions?
  3. How has the murder of Jo Cox affected the Brexit debate in the U.K.?
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