Brexit finally takes effect

What comes after the British and European Union breakup

On January 1, the U.K. officially cut its ties with the European Union after a 4 ½ year period of negotiations. The process of the U.K. leaving the EU, known as Brexit, has not been without friction and there are still unknowns yet to be faced. 

The U.K’s first step toward Brexit started in 2016 when 52% of Brits voted to leave the EU in a referendum. During that time, Europe was dealing with a refugee crisis and this caused immigration to be a major point of contention for voters. On January 31, 2020, Britain officially left the EU however both parties agreed to keep their relationship practically the same until January 1, 2021. This was done so that the U.K. and EU could agree on a trading deal as the EU is Britain’s largest trading partner.

The final trading deal, signed by both parties on January 21, 2020, finalizes new rules around trade, travel, court systems, fishing rights, as well as others. The main theme throughout trade negotiations had been to create a level playing field between the EU and Britain so that neither side had an unfair advantage over the other. 

Even though the trade agreement is now in place, the effects of Brexit on Britain are yet to be fully felt. Economically, Britain is predicted to take a hit as Brexit put new barriers in front of trading with its largest export market. Politically, Brexit has only strengthened independence movements in Scotland as well as reunification movements between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is all in contrast to the EU and its member countries which have shown only greater unity. 

The coming years will be very important for judging the result of the Brexit experiment.

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