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Why in News?
- Britain has officially left the European Union (EU) and has become the first country to leave the 28-member bloc.
- The UK stopped being a member of the European Union (EU) after 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020.
- Britain had previously resisted many EU projects over the years. It had refused to join the single currency or the Schengen free travel area arrangements.
- The 2016 referendum vote had voted in favor of Brexit, triggering deep bitterness and division within Britain.
- It led to political chaos in London, paralyzing parliament, and renewed calls for independence from Scotland.
What is the European Union?
- The EU is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries.
- It allows free trade, which means goods can move between member countries without any checks or extra charges. The EU also allows free movement of people, to live and work in whichever country they choose.
The UK joined in 1973 (when it was known as the European Economic Community) and it will be the first member state to withdraw.
What happens after Brexit day?
- After the UK formally leaves the EU, there is still a lot to talk about and months of negotiation will follow.
- While the UK has agreed on the terms of its EU departure, both sides still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.
During the 11-month transition period, the UK will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same.
What is the Brexit deal?
- The transition period and other aspects of the UK’s departure were agreed upon in a separate deal called the withdrawal agreement.
- Most of that was negotiated by Theresa May’s government. But after Mr. Johnson replaced her in July 2019, he removed the most controversial part – the backstop.
- The backstop was designed to ensure there would be no border posts or barriers between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit. If needed, it would have kept the UK in a close trading relationship with the EU.
- Under Mr. Johnson’s deal, a customs border will effectively be created between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
- Some goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain will be subject to checks and will have to pay EU import taxes (known as tariffs).
- These would be refunded if goods remain in Northern Ireland (ie are not moved to the Republic of Ireland).
What caused Brexit to happen?
So far, there seem to be three theories for what drove so many people to vote for Brexit:
- Immigrants: Faced with rising immigration locals worried about their jobs and the erosion of the English way of life wanted their government to clamp down on immigration. This was a revolt against unrestricted immigration from poorer Eastern European states, Syrian refugees residing in the EU, and millions of Turks about to join the EU.
- Elites: Faced with decades of economic malaise, stagnant real wages, and economic destitution in former industrial heartlands ever since the rise of “Thatcherism” and the embrace of Neoliberal policies by Tony Blair’s New Labour the non-Londoners have decided to revolt against the elite. This isn’t just about being against the EU as it stands, and it's a free market and free movement of peoples.
- Bureaucracy: Faced with Brussel’s asphyxiating amount of red tape the English people decide to “take back control” of their country’s bureaucracy.
The three theories are obviously intertwined at times and contradictory at others, that’s why it matters who is going to be negotiating the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU.