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Brexit

  Mar 12, 2020

Brexit

What is Brexit?

It comes from “British” and “exit”. It is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).

Why is it necessary?

A referendum was held in 2016 due to popular pressure as a part of backlash against globalisation and immigration, in which 51.9 per cent of those voting supported leaving the EU, the invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union started a two-year process which was due to conclude with the UK's exit on 29 March 2019, a deadline which was later extended to 31 October 2019.

The growth of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the early 2010s has been described as influential in bringing about a referendum.  

Who are Eurosceptics and Euroenthusiasts?

Withdrawal has been advocated by Eurosceptics, both left-wing and right-wing, while pro-Europeanists have advocated continued membership.  

What was the parliamentary vote earlier in 2019 about?

Government of the United Kingdom invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.  Negotiations with the EU officially started in 2017. In late 2018, the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration, agreed between the UK Government and the EU, was published. The House of Commons voted against the deal by a margin of 432 to 202 (the largest parliamentary defeat in history for a sitting UK government) in January 2019, and again in March with a margin of 391 to 242 against the deal. Later 2019, the House of Commons voted for the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, to ask the EU for such an extension of the period allowed for the negotiation. 

What is Art.50?

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, enacted by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, introduced for the first time a procedure for a member state to withdraw voluntarily from the EU. 

What is likely to be the impact of Brexit on Britain?

The broad consensus among economists is that Brexit will likely reduce the UK's real per capita income in the medium term and long term.  Studies on effects since the referendum show a reduction in GDP, trade and investment. Brexit is likely to reduce immigration from European countries to the UK. As of March 2019, relations with Ireland and other EU member states remains uncertain. The precise impact on the UK depends on whether the process will be a "hard" or "soft" Brexit.

What is EEA? What benefits does it offer?

The European Economic Area (EEA) is an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union (EU)'s single market to non-EU member parties. The EEA links the European Union member states and three European Free Trade Association states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable free movement of labour, goods, services, and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area. 

The EEA was established in 1994. The contracting parties are the European Union (EU) and three EFTA member states as mentioned above. 

Hard and soft Brexit

"Hard Brexit" and "soft Brexit" are unofficial terms that are commonly used by news media to describe the prospective relationship between the UK and the EU after withdrawal. A hard Brexit (also called a no-deal Brexit) usually refers to the UK leaving the EU and the European Single Market with few or no deals (trade or otherwise) in place, meaning that trade will be conducted under the World Trade Organization's rules. Soft Brexit encompasses any deal that involves retaining membership in the European Single Market and at least some free movement of people according to European Economic Area (EEA) rules. Theresa May's "Chequers plan" embraced some aspects of a "soft" Brexit.

Irish Backstop

The backstop is a position of last resort, to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.

At present, goods and services are traded between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland with few restrictions. The UK and Ireland are currently part of the EU single market and so products do not need to be inspected for customs and standards. But, after Brexit, all that could change - the two parts of Ireland (Irish Republic and the Northern Ireland, the latter being a part of UK) could be in different customs and regulatory regimes, which could mean products being checked at the border. The UK government does not want this to happen. The EU has also said it does not want any hardening of the border.

Hard border raises concerns about the future of the Good Friday Agreement (or Belfast Agreement), a peace deal signed in 1998 which helped to end the Northern Ireland conflict. All UK parties have stated that they want to avoid a hard border in Ireland, due particularly to the historically sensitive nature of the border.