Your Complete Guide to the Brexit Saga

The Brexit saga has been among the most headline-breaking ongoing event of the year. Ever since the 2016 referendum, the UK rests in the grips of political uncertainty and deadlock. Not caught up? Here’s your complete guide to understanding the whole saga.

Understanding the full extent of the Brexit is not an easy thing. Much has been said about it, and a lot has happened since the 2016 referendum.

For those unfamiliar with the fiasco, this article will serve as a comprehensive roadmap.

We’ll start talking about the European Union and how it works to give context on the problems that surrounded the matter for years.

What is the EU, and How does it Work?

The European Union came into existence after the catastrophic Second World War.

The European countries wanted to ensure that trade and economic cooperation will go smoothly. They wanted to avoid war.

Including the United Kingdom, the EU has 28 member states, and 19 of those use the euro as currency.

The Three Branches of the EU Government

The European Union has three main governmental branches:

  • The European Council sets the group’s political agenda. Heads of governments make up this institution.
  • The European Parliament creates laws as members represent the EU citizens who vote for them.
  • The European Commission is the Union’s executive branch. It proposes legislation, implements decisions, and manages the EU’s businesses.

This way, the European Union often acts as a single entity, although the countries within it still have large autonomy over their affairs.

Why Does the UK Want to Leave?

The UK and the EU have had a pretty rocky relationship even in the early days of the Union.

Many in the UK have been skeptical about the EU.

This skeptical became more obvious during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in the 1980s.

In a nutshell, the UK found itself stuck between wanting more autonomy and the need for access to European markets.

Divided Parties

As one can expect, this skepticism triggered divisions within the UK government.

Eurosceptic and Europhile factions appeared.

As a result, the ruling Conservative party was in the middle. The same also happened in the opposition Labour party.

The 2016 Brexit Referendum

To address this issue, the country conducted a public vote on June 23, 2016.

To address this issue, the country conducted a public vote on June 23, 2016.

The issue: should the UK stay or go?

The results: 52% wanted to leave the EU, while 48% wanted to stay.

Turnout was very high at 72%–that’s equivalent to more than 30 million people voting.

Of course, the vote was merely the start of a long process. Negotiations needed to happen, and there’s a lot of that.

The British exit from the EU— Brexit—was supposed to happen on March 29, 2019.

But, as it turned out, it wasn’t going to be that easy or quick.

Theresa May and Brexit

As we have mentioned, the Conservative party has been divided because of Brexit.

So, it was not surprising to find that then-Prime Minister Theresa May struggled with the “divorce deal.”

To be fair, the proposal required compromise from both sides.

However, her so-called “red lines” on the limits of EU power triggered dissent among her party members.

Amid the fiasco and division, several officials resigned from their posts.

Some of them even suggested the UK to leave without a deal.

As MPs repeatedly rejected May’s Brexit divorce deal, the deadline was eventually pushed back to October 31, 2019.

But why was the deal rejected? What were the problems? To answer this, we’ll look at what the deal says.

Key Points of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

The deal covers some very important points for Brexit:

  • The UK will pay the EU to break the partnership. That’s 39 billion pounds.
  • What will happen to EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa?
  • How will the UK and EU avoid a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

Of these three, the last one is the most contentious. But we’ll get to that shortly.

The deal includes a transition period in which the UK and EU will agree to a trade deal, and businesses will adjust.

For the longer term, the Political Declaration draws up the future relationship between the two.

In November 2018, Brussels approved the deal. However, the British MPs didn’t.

They rejected the deal multiple times. On January 15, March 12, and March 20, which was the original Brexit deadline.

The deadline was then pushed back to October 31.

UK’s Payment to the EU

Among the many objections to the divorce, the deal has something to do with money.

See, as we’ve mentioned, the UK has to pay the EU billions for leaving. That’s estimated to be a net 10.8 billion pounds.

And the UK agreed to pay the same amount until the transition period finishes on the last day of December 2020.

There is a clause in the deal that says the transition period could be extended if no trade deal is reached.

That can only happen once. However, of course, the payments from the UK to the EU will continue during the extension.

Laws and Regulations

As you can see, the key issues surrounding Brexit isn’t more about trade but more about the political ramifications of the exit.

In the European Union, the European Court of Justice has the final say in disputes between people and governments.

For Brexit supporters, the UK should have the final word.

May herself said that they were not going to return to ECJ jurisdictions.

However, during the transition, the UK has to follow the EU rules and abide by the ECJ.

Opponents of the deal said this did not make the UK the rule maker.

Also, if the transition period extends, the UK will be under ECJ jurisdiction for longer.

More importantly, though, the agreement committed to keeping “equivalent standards” with EU rules.

In other words, the UK would be imitating EU policies in terms of social policy, employment, and environment.

For MP Mark Francois, this commitment meant the UK “would continue to take EU law.”

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