Less than a month until B-Day. Officially, the UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, though it’s looking increasingly likely that this timeline will be pushed back as the British government requests an Article 50 extension (even if it’s purely a “technical extension” in order to buy time to implement any deal).

Maybe it’s time to finally decide what Brexit should look like in practice? So far, the negotiations have been focused on the UK’s divorce arrangements, two-year transition period (during which the UK will essentially be a non-voting member of the EU), and the Northern Irish backstop, which kicks in if the UK ends the transition period without a deal. The “political declaration” outlining the future relationship between the EU and the UK still lacks important details about what Brexit will actually look like in practice. So, what should it look like? How should we define a successful Brexit?

What do ours readers think? We had a comment from Maia, who is pessimistic about the whole Brexit process and says she can’t see how it can possibly be a success. Is she right to be so critical?

To get a response, we spoke to Martina Anderson, a Sinn Féin MEP from Northern Ireland. The question of the Irish border and the backstop has become an absolutely key issue in the Brexit negotiations, and Sinn Féin campaigned in the 2016 referendum on the side of Remain. So, Martina Anderson may very well agree with Maia that Brexit cannot be a success, but what would the “least-worst” Brexit outcome look like to her?

To get another perspective, we also spoke to Pieter Cleppe, Head of the Brussels Office of the think-tank Open Europe, which campaigns for a reformed EU and a free-trading, globalised Britain post-Brexit. What would he say to Maia? Could he tell us what a successful Brexit might look like?

Well, at Open Europe we were always in favour of UK membership of the EU, but we wanted to reform the EU to make sure the British preferred to stay in the EU. But that didn’t happen, and it couldn’t happen because the only choice the UK public had was to stay in the EU as it was, un-reformed, or to leave.

Now, to answer your question, how can Brexit be a success? I think it will be a success if the current trade arrangements and trade flows between Britain and mainland Europe remain intact, and if Britain manages to do better than the EU in terms of opening up trade to the world. These are, of course, very ambitious targets to be achieved; first of all, we need therefore to have a good deal between the EU and the UK, and secondly the UK needs to do a good job then to close trade deals with all kinds of countries, like for example China but also India, with whom the EU have so far failed to conclude a trade deal.

Does he see a tension between those two aims? The closer the UK is to the EU’s Single Market, the more difficult it might be to forge independent trade deals with other countries because the UK could find itself bound by EU rules and regulations. Is it possible to have both significant EU market access and a truly independent trade policy?

I think it should be possible. If you look at a country like Switzerland, it has quite intense trade with the EU even if it does not take on all the European Union’s rules – it is suffering some markets restrictions as a result of that – and yet it also manages to trade with the world. It has been quite successful with that, so if the Swiss can do that there is no reason, at least in theory, why the British would not be able to do that. But, of course, it also depends on a certain flexibility coming from the EU, and I think the EU will have to accept that, indeed, it cannot ask that the UK takes over all of the rules of the EU, over which it won’t be able to have a say anymore after Brexit, in order for the trade flows to remain open. I think the condition for that is also that if the EU accepts that if trade is restricted between the EU and the UK then this will not only then hurt the British but also the EU, because of course trade is mutually beneficial. And this is something that is certainly not 100% agreed in mainland Europe.

Finally, we had a comment from Gavin, who thinks that Brexit could lead to the breakup of the UK, with Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the union. Is he right? How would Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson respond?
What would a successful Brexit look like? If you don’t support Brexit, what’s your “least-worst” outcome? And, if you do support Brexit, how would you judge success? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – palinchak; Cleppe (c) Pieter Cleppe

35 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Martina Anderson, a Sinn Féin MEP from Northern Ireland raises an interesting scenario- should I understand her correctly.

    She clearly wants to see the “back of Britain” and is in support of a reunification of Ireland as one “independent” state. If ALL (majority) Irish would agree- wouldn’t that solve the bloody Irish Menace eventually?

    Would that not be a nice contribution to European peace by all involved parties?
    It might even win a nomination for a Nobel Peace Price?

    If divided Ireland would “manages” to become one and the Brits understand that such desire is similar to their own- is that not a win-win?

    Difference= one in the EU and the other one out.

    Wouldn’t everyone be smiling, including the Pope- except Mr. Juncker?

  2. avatar

    Half of the MPs leaving while the rest focus on educating people for the benefits of staying within the single market…

  3. avatar

    It will never be a success, it’s a disastrous decision, but the best possible outcome is probably that they accept the deal.

    When Trump and China screws them over they will change their minds about its merits.

    Maybe they can have a hard brexit first, and then come back for that deal later.

  4. avatar
    catherine benning

    What would a successful Brexit look like?

    From my point of view, a successful Brexit would be a full and undisputed complete ‘no deal’ Brexit. As, unless and until we have such a situation, there will neither be a Brexit that will be of benefit to the UK as a whole, or, indeed, peace in our country. The EU is way over its head as an entity of undemocratic rule, in respect of the rights, well being and freedom of choice in lives of British people, who, quite clearly, do not want to be part of their union.

    Ireland is run by Sinn Fein, who strangely claim they don’t want rule by Westminster, yet, want rule by an undemocratic EU opaque entity. Now why would that be? Any suggestions? Yet, at the same time, they want to continue receiving their part of the Westminster gravy train. In other words, they want our tax payers money. Don’t they all? They see us as patsies too fearful to speak or even look at the truth.

    If the Irish want our tax payers money, then get in behind us as a United Kingdom. If they don’t, then look after your own boarder, it’s nothing to do with us. In other words, be totally European with all that entails financially, or, be a fully functioning British unified country. We are no longer going to provide for you economically or politically. It’s called, make your mind up time. In or Out. We are out of Europe, with or without you.

    And remember, whatever the EU do to us, we will reciprocate in full. We should have been separate from the EU the day after the democratic landslide majority vote .It is now almost three years later and the EU are still exploiting our Parliament with their drone of imbecilic rhetoric. And, I must say, do I blame them? This European group of male topas have been pulling the wool over an indecisive, silly woman, left in charge by men too fearful to face facts. Which is a total disgrace. The European people as a whole should use this example of humiliating and senseless political correctness to their advantage in future leadership selection. If you want to keep going in headless circles, cling slavishly onto the disturbed logic of today’s philosophic spouting to your detriment, just the way the UK presently is.

    No deal is the only deal. We can negotiate once that is adopted. On our own terms.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Hi Catherine!

      As a matter of interest- without detracting from any personal decision one favors.

      Below is the given timeline published by the “Financial Times”:

      29th March is the final exit date! Your “honorable & sovereign” parliament has/need to accept that in order to honor the 52% referendum outcome. It must decide! Deal agreed or not! All these “honorables” can only blame themselves for their miserable confusion, lack of leadership, indecision & disunity.

      The UK Parliament cannot escape, shift or delay its constitutional responsibility of crucial decision making by handing that responsibility back to the voters- once more! This is not a ping- pong ball game! Like having no parliament!

      To top it all, the UK PM has no executive powers to decide or rule over the Commons. Dilemma & more constitutional dilemma! That is “the beauty” of consensus politics.

      Alternatively- herd all MP’s into parliament, lock the doors- no food- no water- no Irish whisky- until they reach consensus and “white smoke” emerges!

      A repeat “referendum” is neither helpful nor advantageous. Any such outcome- needs once more final parliamentary approval and the whole story starts again.

      Not even the Queen can “fire” or kick parliaments bum for not acting! It is reminiscent of medieval torture until an acceptable confession has been extracted!

      It is the “Fixed-Term Parliaments Act” that put an end to that in 2011. Now a two-thirds vote in the commons is required to dissolve Parliament before a five-year fixed-term is up. Also not necessary! This is another excuse & opportunistic delaying tactic by whoever proposes that (48%).

      The narrow 4% margin unfortunately encourages political parties opportunism- dilly dallying around a the 52% majority vote FOR the FINAL 29th March Brexit date.

      Missing that date will only play into the hands of the EU, all scaremongers & the 48%- to scupper a reputable governments promise to their voters. They had more than ample time to figure out a deal or not! (Will “poor” T. May outlast all the pressures?)

      “The Royal Prerogative”


      The Queen cannot dissolve parliament either. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act put an end to that in 2011. Now a two-thirds vote in the commons is required to dissolve Parliament before a five-year fixed-term is up. This is another excuse & wasted delaying tactic by whoever proposes that (48%).

      Politically, I would love to see the Irish conundrum resolved (one united & independent country) and the “orderly” severance of the UK umbilical cord by way of a binding referendum! Surely, it has/should happen one day- not so?

      Painfully similar like Brexit has happened and must finally be resolved by/on the 29th March 2019- deal or no deal!

      Good luck!

  5. avatar

    Currently, it would look like a miracle, but ask again in 18months.

  6. avatar

    Unfortunately for any country leaving the European Union there will surely be an impact as the European Union has brought many benefits to it, nevertheless the European Union itself has to deal with the absence of a Union country effectively. It is in my view that two sides will surely have negative effects.

  7. avatar

    Unfortunately for any country leaving the European Union there will surely be an impact as the European Union has brought many benefits to it, so the European Union itself has to deal with the absence of a Union country effectively. It is in my view that both two sides will have negative effects.

  8. avatar
    Linda Fisher

    There will not be a successful leaving of the EU for either Britain or Europe. I can foresee the break up of the UK and a nasty nationalism rearing its ugly head. This needs to be fought hard in Europe and hopefully they will. The only ones to benefit from the demise of Britain and the EU will be America and Putin for destabilising Europe and gobbling up the UK. Even among the ideologues of the ridiculous ERG group in the Conservative party, say it could take up to 50 years for England to recover from it. So no, no good future, as most economists can tell you.

  9. avatar

    US ambassador said “US-UK relationship will prosper after Brexit”. In my opinion, after Brexit, the UK would unavoidable be relying on the US for security. When US foreign policy is dominated by aggression and isolationism, the UK would unavoidably isolate itself from the European continent. As the US is very hostile with Russia, Iran and China, the Brexit is also very likely to be dragged into their conflicts.

  10. avatar

    It appears that Pieter Cleppe is telling half of the story on Switzerland trade with EU. Let’s compare Swiss GDP growth with EU member states, as cited from the Wikipedia on the list of countries by GDP growth from 1990 to 2010, Swiss has not been performing as well as EU member states such as France, UK, Italy, Germany, and Spain, etc. Annual GDP growth between 1990 – 2007, Swiss is 3.44%, while France is 4.3%, UK is 6.2%, Italy is 3.68%, Germany is 3.96% and Spain is 6.15%, Belgium is 4.87%, Austria is 4.92%, Finland is 3.36%, Greece is 7.33%, Ireland is 10.37%, Hungary is 8.10%, Netherland is 3.34%, Luxembourg is 8.47%… Although the figures stop at 2007 i.e. before the 2008 Financial Crisis, data after the crisis is unreliable for all member states have been trying contingency to save the economy. They would not be a normal pattern of growth. So, it is also very reasonable to suggest that during peaceful time, EU brings member states more prosperity. However, during crises, EU provides collective security. In this aspect, we cannot deny the contribution of EU. It is just a common logic that collective effort can ensure security more than individual effort. Pieter Cleppe needs to offer more evidence how individual states can overcome turbulence of the global era better than a collective of small states.

  11. avatar

    Leaving the EU – it’s Common Market and Free Movement of People. And continuing to trade on mutually beneficial terms. The EU can’t afford otherwise!

  12. avatar

    Just cancelling it would be a success

  13. avatar

    Successful brexit? Does not exist.

    • avatar

      Howie Tiernan they certainly wouldn’t want a joyful outcome I dare say…

    • avatar

      in the history books it will be known as the big British brexit debacle.

  14. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    Life is what happens in between your plans for the future… That’s what Brexit will be – only plans for success, but in the meantime reality will follow its own course which will almost always come as a surprise to the Brexiteers and will simply look like a never-ending set of obstacles to the “bright” future of Brexit, bringing the realisation of the plans for prosperity further and further away… So I expect that it will all end in disappointment, one way or another. For example, large international companies have already started leaving the UK and relocating elsewhere, adding thousands of job losses for British workers, NOT new job opportunities, but also leading to losses for the GDP and lower investment in the UK.

    As for immigration, the process of replacement of EU workers with those from outside EU has already begun. Europeans, especially Polish people, are leaving UK in mass numbers, while the number of non-EU immigrants has dramatically increased. So much for the relief of pressure on schools and hospitals, or for reducing the drain on public funds… Another bright Brexit plan ruined… When you replace a hard-working workforce which makes a net contribution to the GDP with people who work less and contribute less in taxes, but have more children and take more from the public funds in terms of benefits and resources, then you get another sad consequence of Brexit which was not envisaged by its supporters… But there will be more to follow, especially in the case of a no-deal EU exit. When you dismiss reality simply as scaremongering, all you are left with in the end is the bitter taste of disappointment when this “scaremongering” becomes truth.

  15. avatar

    A successful Brexit would be leaving at the end of this month under the deal Theresa May has thrashed out.It isn’t perfect, but it ends any knew laws being passed down from Brussels and it ends freedom of movement which were the two main gripes of the leave voters.
    Plus because of the Irish backstop the UK will still be linked slightly with the rest of the EU,which will hopefully help nullify any economic damage to either side.

  16. avatar
    catherine benning

    What would a successful Brexit look like?

    Well it certainly would not look like this following piece of entertainment. And this is presently what is on offer to us. It has to be a joke sequence surely?

    Have you bothered to read the Withdrawal Agreement through to its conclusion? If not, here we go.

    The UK will remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ until eight years after the end of the transition period. (Article 158).

    “All references to Member States and competent authorities of Member States…shall be read as including the United Kingdom.” (Art 6).

    The UK will still be bound by any future changes to EU law in which it will have no say, not to mention having to comply with current law. (Article 6(2))

    The UK is obliged to establish a ‘Joint Committee’ with EU representatives to guarantee ‘the implementation and application of this Agreement’.(Article 164).
    “bound by the obligations stemming from the international agreements concluded by the Union”(Article 124).

    Britain is granted the power to send a civil servant to Brussels to watch them pass stupid laws (Article 34).

    Articles 40-49 practically mandate the UK’s ongoing membership of the Customs Union in all but name.

    Any powers the UK parliament might have had to mitigate EU law are officially removed. (Article 128).

    The UK shall be liable for any “outstanding commitments” after 2022 (Article 142(2), see Articles 140-142 which give the power to decide how much they want to Brussels and the UK has no say.

    Are you still sure the WA means separation to leave EU jurisdiction? As that’s just a few of many WA means remain articles? We would only be in the Customs Union as we would not really have left it in the first place, but in a much weaker position than now.

    How can this be regarded in Britain as Leadership for Brexit? When in reality all it is, is an empty government crew begging to be held in perpetuity to another power. As to lead without backing from them is much too overwhelming to contemplate.

    When the voters went to the ballot box almost three years ago, they said, Britain must get off its knees. That is what a successful Brexit would look like.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Hi Catherine,

      For the next week or two there will be lots of concerned Brits and TEMPERature is rising! Still, the “details” are the prerogative of your sovereign parliament.

      “The draft Brexit withdrawal agreement stands at 599 pages long.” It remains a “draft”! Hope your folks & especially all MP’s are properly informed.

      I refer to one of many available reports in the media:

      You favor a no deal exit. Hope you get it!
      Besides all the worries and fear many have- this option has one advantage:

      Both entities are in trouble and pressured to negotiate from a “clean” sheet- more respectfully!

      Maybe not a bad choice! “United they must be” and keep their nerve(s)!

  17. avatar
    sorin necula

    Many call BREXIT as being a (grand scale) divorce. So the question can be paraphrased as follows: “what would a successful divorce look like”? How does one answer that? The successful ending of a failed marriage :-) What the two parties can only hope/ strife for is the least pain, least costs, least damage to image and self esteem, so they could remain friends (or at least tolerate each other after the dust settles down). To achieve that the two sides need to be open to compromise and to hire damn good lawyers/ negotiators. BREXIT didn’t have any of that, did it? It will hurt, will cost and will antagonise. The only perspective from which it could be a success, is that of the learnings it offers. If we were only mature enough for them.

  18. avatar

    Happy Monday, 18 days to go… ;) So the question is how would it look like, the Brexit… I suppose there are as many opinions as there are people and for every single person, it will look like different.

    If you are Arron Banks, how would Brexit look like to you?
    Answer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-ERabHc68k

    If you are Theresa May, how would Brexit look like to you?
    Answer: No-deal Brexit plans put 3,500 troops on standby

    If you are a billionaire, how would Brexit look like to you?
    Answer: Sir Jim Ratcliffe: UK’s richest man and ardent Brexiteer is moving to Monaco

    So this is how the Brexit will look like…

  19. avatar

    The best Brexit would be to support Theresa May’s negotiating result befor the end of March. People will gradually will find out what Brexit means. During the interim period find out what is the best solution for Northern Ierland. Maybe Irland should be united.

    Do the English realy care About Northern Irland?

  20. avatar

    The least worst scenario will lead to an inevitable disintegration of the UK as a result of a no-deal superhard brexit. Northern Ireland will unite with the Republic of Ireland, 100 years after the revolution. Scotland becomes independent and a turbo-track member of the EU. Then Wales and finally England would follow, after Singaporean experimentation brought England to a collapse. The UK becomes an empty shell of post-colonial policy, instead good government for and by the people is guaranteed by the smaller entities. Thanks to Brexit the people on the British Isles will have far more say and seats per capita in Brussels.

  21. avatar

    A successful Brexit wouldn’t happen….

  22. avatar

    Hello from an austrian school :)

    Within the EU the UK has a special status and influence and savety in many aspects. Why giving that up for uncertainty while having best conditions compared to other member states?

    I slowly start to understand why a lot of europeans consider UK citizens as smugly when they are crying out immediately for a “BREXIT” (while having best conditions within the EU) when there is a problem (refugee crysis, debt crysis) instead of sticking together and solve this problem as a union. There is so much baseless hatred in the UK against the EU far beyond objective arguments.

    I hope the UK leaves very soon. They should not be allowed to be a full member anymore after all. Hopefully they are stupid enough (which they have already proven over the last 3 years. Thanks for this wonderful entertainment. I have cancled netflix) and leaving the EU. The harder the brexit – the better. U have the support of almost 500 million people living in the EU who wants you out.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Hello Wolfgang- sorry, yours is a typical juvenile pro EU but immature comment.

      Solution: to accelerate your “understanding a lot more” please go back to school and study the 1948 UN Charter & 1993 Vienna Convention on Human Rights and life in general- than do your 6 month compulsory military duty as per Section 10 of the Austrian National Defense Act- if you are older than 17 years- thereafter get a job to gain some real job & life experience before commenting publicly again!

      Ist es jugendliche Arroganz oder Dummheit? Ausserdam ist es eine Schande ein Volk von 64 Millionen der Dummheit zu bezichten!

      Let me apologize on your behalf to the 64 mio in the UK!

  23. avatar
    bert van santen

    Easy, the UK people gonna make a large success out of it! Trade was there before the EU and will be there after the EU.

  24. avatar

    In my opinion, it is not the negotiation that is too difficult, of course it is always difficult, if EU does not want a demonstration effort of the BREXIT. It is not the capacity of Theresa May who is unable to negotiate for a better term. As a matter of fact, Theresa May has been assigned a job which is unable to accomplish. It is not because of anything. it is because of the uncertainty to leave EU, an organization formed for collective security, which is, Brexit means also the lost of a sense of security. However “good” the agreement might be, Theresa May would not have it passed in the Parliament, in my opinion. It appears that the EU has already said that no further negotiation.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.