Bye bye Britain. More than three years after the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the UK is finally heading out the door. We’re sad to see you go, but hopefully we can at least remain friends.
Can we stop talking about Brexit now? For the past few years, the rest of Europe has reacted with confused bemusement as Britain’s political system descended into complete paralysis. With Boris Johnson recently handed a thumping majority by the electorate, however, can the most divisive issue in postwar UK politics finally be resolved?
Not so fast. Now the second stage of the Brexit process begins. The “divorce agreement” has been finalised (including Britain agreeing to pay the money it owes) but the talks on the future trade relationship are only just beginning.
The UK will now enter the so-called “transition period” until at least December 2020. For most people (unless you’re a British MEP), nothing will change. The UK still has full access to the EU Single Market, and EU citizens can still live and work in the UK (and vice versa), but Britain will no longer have a seat at the table when it comes to making the European rules it follows. For the time being, the United Kingdom has become a “fax democracy” (or, as Prime Minister Johnson would put it: a “vassal state”), forced to adopt all European Union regulations without having any influence over their crafting.
Understandably, the UK Prime Minister wants Britain to leave the transition period as quickly as possible. Johnson is committed to concluding the second stage of the Brexit process by the end of 2020 (a breakneck schedule which EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has called “impossible”). Some predict the next eleven months might be even more fractious than the three years that preceded it.
Can we finally move on from Brexit? Or will the next stage of the process be even more bitter and acrimonious? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!