When the pandemic hit, Brexit was all but forgotten. Yet it hasn’t gone away. Great Britain officially ceased to be a Member State of the European Union on 31 January, 2020, though the transition period means little has changed (yet). Despite years of negotiations, the future trade relationship still remains unclear. The possibility remains of a “no deal” Brexit without a trade agreement when the transition period ends in 2021.

During the transition, the UK has continued to have full access to the EU internal market, its citizens can live and work in the EU and EU citizens have continued to live and work in the UK. At the same time, Britain is no longer at the negotiating table when it comes to new European rules; during the transition period, the British have had to adopt all EU regulations without having a say in their crafting. The UK government could have requested an extension as long as it did so before July 2020, but the deadline passed and no extension was requested. What happens next?

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Paul X asking “How can anyone be happy with how Brexit has gone?”

To get a response, we put Paul X’s comment to former British MEP Jackie Jones, who was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, only to lose her seat when the UK ceased to be an EU Member State in 2020. What would she say?

I’m certainly very unhappy with the outcome of the referendum (based on unlawful activities, which was only ever supposed to be indicative). I’m unhappy with the way the UK government has handled all of it. Those who are happy, in my view, are those who have gained financially. There are not many of them, but unfortunately, some are in power.

Brexit is a UK story, not a European story. But it does serve as a warning to the rest of Europe. We have to really listen and understand the issues our citizens face and worry about. We can solve issues together, without demonizing parts of a population. More equal societies which spread the wealth across the country are in better shape than we were/are. We have a huge concentration of wealth in London and surrounding areas. Wales is one of the poorest areas in the EU. It was left behind by successive governments. You can’t do that.

For another perspective, we asked the European historian Helene von Bismarck what she thought. How would she explain the course that Brexit has taken?

Well, I agree with Paul. I don’t think anybody can be happy with the way Brexit has gone. It’s really astonishing and depressing how the situation has deteriorated from the referendum in 2016 to the situation in which we find ourselves in now. When you think that just a small majority voted for Brexit, and only a small percentage of that majority voted for its hardest version, it’s really quite incredible that we now find ourselves in a situation where we might have either a very hard Brexit or an acrimonious ‘no trade deal’ Brexit.

I think a lot of it has to do with domestic politics, and also with disappointed expectations and a certain degree of unrealistic expectations. On the European side, nobody expected this to get so hot, and on the British side nobody expected this to be so difficult. And this is how we find ourselves.

Next up, we had a comment come in from Cheryllyn, who is worried about the future. She writes: “Brexit happened, but the deadline for the deal is getting closer. If we need more time to negotiate, we have to take that time.” Is extending the deadline still an option?

How would Jackie Jones respond?

An extension of talks has been agreed [talks were extended by a month in early October]. Beyond that, constitutionally it is possible with a Treaty amendment. Politically it is possible but I don’t know if it is probable. Let’s see what happens in the USA in November.

I defy anyone being able to predict what comes next. Certainly, I’ve given up predicting – as in all my years on this planet, these past three/four years have been the most unpredictable!

And what would Helene von Bismarck say?

Well, sadly, a delay isn’t an option because it’s different to last year. Last year, there was the possibility to extend Article 50. But now, we find ourselves in the transition period, and, legally, the last moment to ask for an extension of the transition period would have been the end of June this year, and the British government would have had to ask for this, and then the EU would have had to have accepted. So, the EU couldn’t just offer it, the Brits had to ask for it, and they didn’t.

So, legally, it is sadly impossible to extend the negotiation period. What is also a reality is that even if there is an agreement now it will be a very thin one, and if there is no agreement this won’t be the end of it. There will be more negotiations, because both of these endings aren’t sustainable, so we will keep talking, but under a different legal framework and under different circumstances. But this deadline is real, and we should take it very seriously.

What’s next in the Brexit drama? Will there be a trade deal by the end of the year? 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: Bigstock © Ink Drop; Portrait Credits: Jones © European Union

19 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    The UK and the EU are then one step closer to a chines take over in all senses be it economically or malitary wise.

    • avatar

      “Divide and conquer” is the name of China’s game…
      When EU was going to release it’s “Human rights report” a few years ago Greece blocked it, just a few months prior they received large investments from China…

    • avatar

      Unfortunely democracy is like that but seeing that it was in the world interest in knowing the EU should have gone ahead and released them anyway.

  2. avatar

    Why sign an agreement you don’t intend to keep?

  3. avatar

    Forget about UK, it’s a thing of the past now it will be UK exit for Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

  4. avatar

    Will there be a trade deal?.. well yes, if both sides could end their posturing…uk will have to agree a stronger goverence model & EU must stop trying to pretend that UK is still somehow part of EU & governed by its social rules.
    They were prepared to accept this for the FTAs with Korea, Japan, Canda, Mexico etc…its ridiculous to insist on this for UK.
    Failure to reach one will ensure the economic hit of Covid will be magnified considerably for all parties.
    Both will survive, but avoidable harm would have been caused.

    • avatar

      no deal, UK voted brexit now exit…stop haggling for special treats ….eat the cake as ordered….and one more thing ..it is not EU fault that UK voted leave

    • avatar

      the point is that UK are NOT asking for “special treatment”.
      They have requested an FTA on the same lines as Canada….but the EU have refused this…insisting on additional role for the ECJ and insisting that UK sign up in law to follow EU social and competition regulations……these are things which the EU have NOT included in any other FTA.
      So in these cases, it is NOT the UK asking for special treatment.

    • avatar

      oh ok am not aware of all the details but is been a long divorce and I am looking forwards to it ending ….not happy about it at all and just paid almost 10€ for a bocal of marmite…good luck to all of us

    • avatar

      think we all want to close the book on this whole sorry chapter…but dont expect sympathy if you are depraved enough to like marmite 😃

  5. avatar

    Of course there will be some sort of trade deal…

  6. avatar
    catherine benning


    This man is heroic.

    You cannot make a deal that moves life forward, within freedom and prosperity whilst tied, hand in glove, with old, stayed in their ways, marriage partners. It never works. One or both invariably ends as supplicant. It breeds a misery far worse than in previous years of hostility between them. Psychologically, the rot continues to regurgitate, festering into eternity. The once happy, united goal they had at its concept is dead, there’s no purpose in prolonging suffering. Boris is no fool, he knows the British would cry for Madame Guillotine. Democracy, the way we know it here, would end at once should he settle for anything other than our sovereign right.

    Make no mistake, true British people feel a strong and adoring connection to all the peoples of European heritage and culture. It is our family historically, we grew together within it and as a result of it.

    Personally, I genuinely believe the British people are making the very best move to save our civilisation for the future of us all, for somehow, the present leadership within the EU organisation has left its sense of duty to the peoples it says it is speaking for and taken a path that leads them to poverty and destruction of their values. In more than principle but additionally in action. This is untenable.

    It’s been an arduous realisation to take on board.


  7. avatar

    Now is the chance for Ireland. Now the Irish can unite. Ireland should be united. I am for the Irish people.

    Even if someday Britain decides to go back into the EU, they should make an application with Iceland and Norway since they are not in the EU.

    I support the Irish people on this matter. Now Ireland can dispute Northern Ireland with the United Kingdom. The EU is behind Ireland.

  8. avatar

    Throw UK away… With no deal and no concession…

  9. avatar

    Canada just kept the same agreements with UK, why can’t we?

    • avatar

      Canada, along with other countries from the Commonwealth have a special relationship with Great Britain, and this won’t change over night due to Brexit, Europe on the other hand must not make a precedent, and if G.B. chose to leave the E.U. with no deal than they should take responsibility for the consequences of their decision. No deal, means no trade deal, no security deal, no free movement of people and goods deal etc.

    • avatar

      because they think to be smarter and they pretend to have benefits but not honoring their obligations.

  10. avatar

    IMHO a no deal Brexit is imminent, if from 2016 until now the 2 sides couldn’t reach an agreement, they probably won’t reach one in the following month & 1/2, especially now with everyone being preoccupied with surviving the covid crisis. It’s time we all take responsibility for our decisions and move forward, the Brits have decided to leave 4 years ago, let them leave.

    • avatar

      nobody is stopping them… What is this “let them leave”?
      They don’t have any idea how to manage Brexit and the consequences are already devastating!

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