Brexit is the term we use to describe the withdrawal process of United Kingdom from the European Union. In a referendum on 23rdJune 2016, 51.9% of the participating UK electorate voted to leave the EU, hence the country entered the first phase of ‘Brexit’.
The conclusion to leave the EU encouraged triumphant celebrations among Eurosceptics around the country and sent shockwaves through the global economy. After the declaration of the referendum result, the pound fell to its lowest level since 1985.
Britain also got a new Prime Minister – Theresa May. The former home secretary took over from David Cameron, who decided to leave his position of Prime Minister on the day he lost the referendum.
What was the voting breakdown of leave voters across the UK?
England voted for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%who to wished to remain. Wales also voted for Brexit, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote beating the 47.5% remain voters. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. Scotland backed Remain by 62% while 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted Remain.
What happened to the UK economy since the Brexit vote?
David Cameron’s Chancellor George Osborne and many other prominent financialexperts who were remain supporters predicted an abrupt economic crisis if we were to leave the EU – and the pound did in fact drop the very day after referendum results were announced. The pound is still approximately 10% lower against the dollar and 15% against the euro!
Brexit negotiations started in 2017
Brexit negotiationsformally started almost a year after the referendum, on 19thJune 2017.
The UK and EU negotiating sides meet face-to-face for one week each month. Their first responsibilitiesare:
- Trying to come to an agreement on the rights of UK and EU expat citizens after Brexit
- Reaching a figure for money the UK will need to pay on leaving, the supposed “divorce bill”
- What happens to the Northern Ireland border
Agreement on these issues was reached on 8 December: ‘Breakthrough’ deal in Brexit talks. They are now discussing a “transition” period and future relations between the UK and the EU.
What is Article 50?
Article 50 is a plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU. It was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon – an agreement signed up to by all EU states which became law in 2009. Before that agreement, there was no officialway for a country to leave the EU.
It’s not very lengthy – just five paragraphs in total – which outline that any EU member state may decide to leave the EU, that it must inform the European Council and negotiate its extraction with the EU; that there are two years to reach an agreement – unless everyone agrees to extend it – and that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.
Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March 2017, meaning the UK has planned to leave the EU on Friday, 29 March 2019. It can be extended if all 28 EU members agree, but it looks like all sides are focusing on that date as being final, and Theresa May is seeking to write it into British law.
What’s going to happen to all the EU laws that are currently in force in the UK?
The Conservative government has presented the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to Parliament. If passed, it will end the dominance of EU law in the UK. This “Great Repeal Bill”, as it had been referred to, is meant to mix all EU legislation into UK law in one bundle, after which the government will decide over a period which parts to keep, change or remove. The government is facing claims from Remain supporting MPs that it is giving itself far-reaching powers to change legislation without proper Parliamentary scrutiny.
What can we expect from Brexit in 2018?
The UK and EU have now agreed on the three “divorce” subjects which include:
- Talks of how much the UK owes the EU
- What happens to the Northern Ireland border
- What happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK
Talks this year will move on to future relations – and a plan for a two year “transition” period to smooth the way to post-Brexit relations.
Initially, the joint EU-UK report on “sufficient progress” needs to be turned into a legal text that will form the basis of a formal withdrawal agreement. And there are still plenty of details that remain unresolved.
J M R’s Comment on Brexit from a legal perspective:
” From a legal viewpoint, a resolution negotiated in good faith would be the best possibility for all parties involved.
In recent times, it seems the hopeful Brexit ideology some leave supporters may have had seems unlikely to be realised, given that other countries are not exactly rushing to conclude trade deals with the UK. All options involve a period of substantialvagueness. My personal opinion? We should have stayed in the EU because there will be a direct effect on EU Citizens as laws will be changed and redrafted that concern them all – EU Law ensured that there was a check and balance in separation of powers between the three law making bodies in the UK. I doubt this will be the case when EU Law is overwritten.”
MariumRazzaq–Partner at J M R Solicitors Limited