‘Brexit’ short for British exit, a term that describes the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, resembling a theatrical play – the cast is made up of the politicians from the different parties, different prime ministers, the EU, and of course the people.
David Cameron’s reign
So let’s start with the first act set in 2013 where David Cameron was the British prime minister. He made a speech announcing his intentions to change the role of the United Kingdom in the EU and he asked the people to vote on whether or not to remain in the EU.
Three and a half years later the time came when the British people decided by a narrow margin in favour of leaving the EU (51.9%votes). The word Brexit was on everyone’s lips yet hardly anyone had expected this result. On the very next day, Mr. Cameron resigned from his post.
Teresa May’s reign
The second act started on 13th July 2016 where Teresa May was elected as a new prime minister and was assigned with a task to arrange Brexit with the EU. In March 2017, she submitted the official letter giving notice of withdrawal from the EU. This was the beginning of a tabular negotiation period in which topics included were on free trade within the EU, citizens rights, Brexit costs, Great Britain’s outstanding debts with the EU, and the backstop-a debate on whether the border between the British country of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will remain open or will there be strict border controls. Initially, the players involved can’t find any common grounds on many points. At the Brexit summit held in November 2018, the EU and the government of the United Kingdom reached an understanding on a withdrawal agreement that Britain will continue to follow all EU regulations but will no longer have a voice on EU Committees.
The majority voted against the Brexit agreement in the House of Commons presented by Mrs. May. So she prepared a new draft but this draft and all the following alternative proposals are rejected by a majority of members in the House of Commons. Brexit was postponed from March 29th, 2019 to October 31st, 2019. After, numerous setbacks Mrs. May announced that her efforts to reach a deal with the EU have failed and she resigned as prime minister.
Boris Johnson’s reign
The third act started when Mr. Johnson took over as PM in July 2019 and set about renegotiating Mrs. May’s deal. Mr. Johnson succeeded in replacing the backstop with new customs arrangements. Unlike the previous deal, the revised one will allow the UK to sign and implement its own trade agreements with countries around the world. However, the revised deal effectively creates a customs and regulatory border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This means some goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain would be subject to checks and pay EU import taxes (known as tariffs). These would be refunded if goods remain in Northern Ireland (i.e., are not moved to the Republic of Ireland). All other deals remain unchanged from the one negotiated by Mrs. May.
Mr. Johnson tried to put his revised deal to a vote in parliament on 19th October 2019. However, the vote did not go ahead. Many members of parliament wanted to postpone it until the legislation needed to turn the deal into law had been approved. Mr. Johnson was forced to write a Brexit extension letter to the EU. Members of parliament said this was to stop a possible no-deal Brexit.
To know more about a no-deal Brexit watch this video:
To avoid a no-deal Brexit at the end of October, the UK government must pass the Brexit divorce plan into law, obtain another extension from the EU, or cancel Brexit.
With Parliament in deadlock, Mr. Johnson called an early general election, to which members of parliament agreed. The election, which happened on 12th December, resulted in a conservative majority of 80-seat. Eight days later, members of parliament voted 358 to 234 in favour of the withdrawal agreement bill, which now goes on to further scrutiny in parliament. The bill is expected to pass with ease given that the prime minister now has a comfortable majority in the parliament.
What happens next?
Assuming the European Parliament also gives the green light, the UK will formally leave the EU on 31 January with a withdrawal deal. However, this would only mark the next step in the Brexit process. Following its departure, the UK will enter a transition period until 31 December 2020.
During this period, the UK’s trading relationship with the EU will remain the same while the two sides negotiate a free trade deal. At the same time, many other aspects of the UK’s future relationship with the EU – including law enforcement, data sharing, and security will need to be agreed.
If a trade deal is ready in time, the UK’s new relationship with the EU can begin immediately after the transition. If not, the UK faces the prospect of having to trade with no agreement in force. This would mean checks and tariffs on UK goods travelling to the EU.
Mr. Johnson has also ruled out any form of an extension to the transition period, meaning the clock is already ticking.
Till then we have to wait and see what happens on 31st January 2020.