All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU

What is happening now?

Editor’s Note: This guide will be updated on a regular basis. Latest — With Johnson Government failing to get Parliamentary approval for its hard Brexit deal with European Union, UK General Election scheduled for December 12.

What does brexit mean?

Brexit is the nickname (“British Exit”) for the UK’s proposed departure from the European Union after 43 years of membership.

Beyond this, all is unclear over economic arrangements; movement of people, goods, and services; arrangements between UK and European institutions, and the status of EU nationals in the UK and Britain nationals in Europe.

why is britain leaving the european union?

On June 23, 2016, British citizens voted by 52% to 48% to leave in a referendum called by the Conservative-led Government, which had expected a Remain majority.

Despite subsequent uncertainty and prospects of a damaging Brexit, the current Government is insisting that the UK must leave because it is honoring the “will of the people”.

When is the UK due to leave the eu?

The UK was supposed to leave on March 29, 2019, two years after the Government’s invocation of Article 50 for departure.

However, the Government’s failure to get the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament and the prospect of a calamitous No Deal (see below) have led the EU to offer a technical extension until April 12 (May 22, in the unlikely event that Parliament endorses the Agreement).

Can brexit be delayed further?

It is uncertain if any extension will be agreed after April and May.

The European Union has said that an additional extension depends on the UK Parliament accepting a Government plan for withdrawal, opening discussion on the Political Declaration between Britain and the EU.

But if the UK Parliament takes control of the process fro the Government, this opens the options of a significantly-altered deal, a General Election, a second referendum, and/or the revocation of Article 50 for withdrawal. The EU may then accept a further extension to the end of 2019 or beyond.

Can brexit still be cancelled?

Yes, and the prospects of this — while still far from likely — growing. One option for Parliament, taking control of Brexit, is revocation of Article 50. If the opposition Labour Party come to power through a General Election, it could revoke the article — although leader Jeremy Corbyn and his advisors seem wary of this. The decision to leave could be overturned in a second referendum.

can there be another referendum?

Yes, but the current Government, with its “will of the people in 2016” mantra, has been firmly opposed. The path to a referendum could come through Parliament, but there does not appear to be a majority at the moment for this step. A Labour Government could order the referendum, but Corbyn has resisted this amid claims that the party is concerned about alienting Leave supporters in its constituencies.

What is likely under a No Deal?

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, almost all economists, other analysts, business, manufacturing, and Government agencies forecast economic and social shock.

The Bank of England and Treasury, as well as independent economists, project a 9% fall in GDP, compared to the UK staying in the EU. More than 12% of the economy, with 2.5 million jobs, is exposed to a downturn. Customs checks and tariffs will restrict trade.

In the short term, lack of preparations could lead to disruption of supply chains, including food, medicine, and components for manufacturing. Transport issues, including cross-Channel delays and cancellations, are expected. There will be staff shortages in areas such as the National Health Service which rely on EU personnel.

No Deal would leave EU citizens in the UK without clarity about their status. UK travellers to Europe will face complications such as driving licenses and insurance.

A “hard border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland could undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which sought to end decades of conflict. The Northern Irish economy is projected to contract by more than 10%, and its Irish counterpart will suffer a 5% drop.

Can there be a positive brexit?

Not as currently designed. Almost three years after the referendum, the UK has not established clear arrangements with the EU, and has made little advance towards the Holy Grail of international trade deals promised by Leavers. Health, safety, and environmental standards are in limbo. Long-standing security arrangements with the EU will be suspended. The UK will be outside structures such as the European Medicines Agency.

Some analysts favor passage of the Government’s plan for the Withdrawal Agreement, arguing that it is preferable to a No Deal and that subsequent negotiation of the Political Declaration can deal with economic and social difficulties. But even then, the Bank of England and economists project a contraction of between 4%-5% in the UK economy, with no clarity over the endpoint.

Brexit Chaos: Part 1, 2 & 3

Scott Lucas summarises the state of Brexit following three days of debate in Parliament after the heavy defeat of Theresa May’s withdrawal plan for the second time.