Welcome to Britlink

Welcome to Britlink a site covering topics of personal interest:

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world.
The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom’s 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq miles) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world’s longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom’s capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool.

The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution.
The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation.
The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world’s landmass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and political systems of many of its former colonies.


 

British Overseas Territories

The British Overseas Territories (BOTs) or United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are 14 territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not been granted independence or have voted to remain British territories. These territories do not form part of the United Kingdom and, with the exception of Gibraltar, are not part of the European Union. Most of the permanently inhabited territories are internally self-governing, with the UK retaining responsibility for defence and foreign relations. Three are inhabited only by a transitory population of military or scientific personnel. They all share the British monarch (Elizabeth II) as head of state.

As of April 2018 the Minister responsible for the Territories excluding the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus, is the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN. The other three territories are the responsibility of the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas.

The term “British Overseas Territory” was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, replacing the term British Dependent Territory, introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981. Prior to 1 January 1983, the territories were officially referred to as British Crown Colonies.

Although the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man are also under the sovereignty of the British monarch, they are in a different constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom. The British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are themselves distinct from the Commonwealth realms, a group of 16 independent countries (including the United Kingdom) each having Elizabeth II as their reigning monarch, and from the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 countries mostly with historic links to the British Empire (which also includes all Commonwealth realms).


 

Brexit

Brexit is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). Following a referendum held on 23 June 2016 in which 51.9 percent of those voting supported leaving the EU, the Government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, starting a two-year process which was due to conclude with the UK’s exit on 29 March 2019. That deadline has since been extended to 31 October 2019.

Withdrawal from the EU has been advocated by both left-wing and right-wing Eurosceptics, while pro-Europeanists, who also span the political spectrum, have advocated continued membership and maintaining the customs union and single market. The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath, with continued membership endorsed by a referendum in 1975. In the 1970s and 1980s, withdrawal from the EC was advocated mainly by the political left, with the Labour Party’s 1983 election manifesto advocating full withdrawal. In 1987, the Single European Act, the first major revision of 1957’s Treaty of Rome, formally established the single European market and European Political Cooperation.

From the 1990s, opposition to further European integration came mainly from the right. When in 1992 the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union (EU) and the single market and guaranteed the four basic freedoms (the free movement of goods, services, capital and people around the EU) was brought before Parliament, there were divisions within the Conservative Party, leading to a rebellion over the Treaty.

Share