What’s the deal (or no deal) with Brexit?

What’s the deal (or no deal) with Brexit?
British Prime Minister, Theresa May. Photo: Number 10, Wikimedia Commons

In June 2016 the United Kingdom voted with a majority of 52% to leave the European Union, and for most people it’s seemed like a confusing mess since then.

Never mind the shock of the decision, with many around the world viewing it as a kneejerk, somewhat xenophobic reaction from a nation that’s become increasingly ethnically diverse. Certainly, issues about EU immigration policy have been at the forefront of the Brexit issues and were definitely one of the main factors behind voting decisions.

Regardless of how you rationalise the UK’s decision to leave the EU, it has undoubtedly been anything but a straightforward process since the votes were cast. While the UK’s government has been negotiating with the EU ever since on how the exit will actually pan out, there still seems as if there is no concrete framework in place.

The official date when the UK formally leaves the EU is the 29th of March, 2019, exactly a year from when British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the Brexit process. This is based around the Lisbon Treaty of which Article 50 outlines that a nation leaving the EU has two years to negotiate the terms of the exit.

If a deal is agreed upon before the leave date (which is in doubt as of recent developments) then the UK will enter a period of transition wherein it still adheres to EU protocols without having any authority over them. This process would last just under two years, giving the UK time to set up its own rules.

If no deal is reached, then there will be no transition period. This will be very problematic as EU tariffs will make common goods in the UK much more expensive in a short amount of time. It will also delay travel as airlines would need to seek permission from each EU state in order to land planes on the continent.

The Irish border has become a major issue in the Brexit saga, with open border between Northern and Southern Ireland (established by the Good Friday peace agreement) in jeopardy once the UK leaves the EU. The issue has the potential to reignite hostilities between Catholic Irish nationalists and Protestant Irish who wish to remain with the UK.

Currently, the fate of Brexit is very much up in the air. While Ms May has worked hard to reach a draft agreement with the EU, there is still a great deal of division within the UK parliament about whether or not the deal is acceptable.