Brexit to be Made Official on March 29
Brexit has already happened, but the process for the United Kingdom’s leave of the European Union (EU) has not been made official yet. In October 2016, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that the government would trigger Article 50, the plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU, by “the first quarter of 2017.” On March 20, May’s official spokesperson confirmed that Article 50 would be triggered on March 29.
Brexit is a merger of the words Britain and exit to form a shorthand way of saying the UK’s call to leave the EU. A referendum was held on June 23, 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain part of the EU. 51.9% of the voters decided to leave. As a result of the vote, former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned on the day he lost the referendum, leading May to become the new prime minister even though she was against Brexit.
EU is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. Since its inauguration after World War II, it has grown to become a “single market”, allowing people and goods to freely travel through member states. Critics in the country have argued that the EU imposed too many rules and regulations on businesses and charged billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little benefit in return. They also wanted the UK to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming to the UK to live and work.
Article 50 is a series of paragraphs that detail what EU member states should do if they wish to leave the union. Under this article, member states that wish to quit the EU must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU. Unless everyone wishes to extend it, there are two years to reach an agreement, and the exiting state cannot take part in internal discussions about its departure.
May is set to invoke Article 50 by the end of March, but nobody knows how long the Brexit process will take since Article 50 was only created in 2009 and has never been used. Negotiations are likely to be focused on trade between the UK and EU. May says she wants the UK to reach a new customs deal with EU. Additionally, May wishes to focus on immigration, as she says the main message she has received from the Brexit vote is that British people want a reduction in immigration.
As this is the first time a country has decided to leave the EU, it is unknown what processes will need to take place or how long they will take. Effects of a Brexit remain unknown, but it is clear that preexisting arrangements in place would be significantly affected.