The UK will no longer be a member of the European Union
THE UK will no longer be a member of the European Union after 11pm on January 31 2020.
Britain’s exit is a complicated process. Here is our simple guide to what it’s all about.
What is Brexit?
Brexit is the merging of the words “Britain” and “exit” and refers to the country’s exit from the European Union.
The term has been widely used ever since the idea of a referendum on the UK leaving the trading bloc was put forward.
More than 30 million people voted in the June 2016 referendum with a turnout of 71.8 per cent. Leave won by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
People now talk about “soft” and “hard” Brexit in reference to how close the UK will be to the EU post separation.
A soft Brexit means Britain will keep strong economic ties with the EU, with a hard Brexit meaning the UK leaves the single market entirely.
What is the European Union?
The European Union is an economic and political partnership.
There are currently 28 members states including the United Kingdom.
It began as a trade group of six nations in the 1950s.
The UK first applied to join what was then the European Economic Community in 1961 and finally became a member in 1973.
Now called the European Union, it has grown to include former Soviet bloc states and has at its heart a “single market” allowing goods and people to move freely.
It has its own parliament, central bank and the euro currency used by 19 countries, though some members including Britain opted to keep their own money.
Eurocrats have been pushing for ever closer political and financial union, which could include a European Army separate from the Nato alliance.
When will Brexit happen?
The UK leaved the European Union on January 31, 2020 at 11pm.
This came after Brexit Day was delayed three times.
Why did the UK want to leave the EU?
A referendum was held on Thursday 23 June 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain?
Leave won by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
The referendum turnout was very high at 72 per cent, with more than 30 million people voting – 17.4 million people opting for Brexit.
Those in favour of leaving said Britain was being held back by EU red tape with too many rules on business.
Another key issue was sovereignty and a desire for Britain to take back full control of its borders.
What happens after Brexit?
Leaving the EU on January 31, 2020 will just be one step on in a very fiddly process.
There is still a lot to talk about and months of negotiation will follow.
Although the UK has agreed to the terms of its departure from the European Union, both the UK and the EU still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.
This will be sorted during the transition period, which starts immediately after Brexit Day and is due to end on December 31 2020.
During this 11-month period, the UK will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will continue to be the same.
What still needs to be arranged?
The transition period will give both sides time to negotiate a new free trade agreement.
This is needed as the UK will leave the single market and customs union at the end of the 11-month period.
A free trade agreement allows goods to move around the bloc without checks or extra charges.
If a new free trade agreement can’t be agreed in time, then the UK could have to trade with no deal in place.
This would mean tariffs (taxes) on UK goods traveling to the EU.
As well as trade, many other aspects of the future UK-EU relationship will also need to be decided. For example:
- Aviation standards and safety
- Licensing and regulation of medicines
- Supplies of electricity and gas
- Law enforcement, data sharing and security
- Access to fishing waters.
Boris Johnson has said the transition period will not be extended.
However, the European Commission has warned the timetable will be challenging.