Britain will officially depart from the European Union, 1,317 days after voting in favor of leaving the bloc in a referendum that plunged the country into a three-year-long debate over its future.
While this will be the official end of 47 years of Britain’s membership in what became the European Union, very little is set to change immediately. It’s the beginning of a transition period, scheduled to end on Dec. 31, during which London and Brussels must hash out the details of Britain’s future relationship with its European neighbors. Still, the moment carries enormous legal and symbolic weight.
When does the UK leave the EU?
Today – also known as Brexit Day – is the day the UK will finally and formally leave the European Union.
Specifically, the UK will leave at 11pm on Friday, 31 January, and enter immediately into an 11-month transition period.
What happens after Brexit day?
After the UK formally leaves the EU on 31 January 2020, there is still a lot to talk about and months of negotiation will follow.
While the UK has agreed the terms of its EU departure, both sides still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.This will be worked out during the transition period (which some prefer to call the implementation period), which begins immediately after Brexit day and is due to end on 31 December 2020.
The transition period is meant to give both sides some breathing space while a new free trade agreement is negotiated.
This is needed because the UK will leave the single market and customs union at the end of the transition. A free trade agreement allow goods to move around the EU without checks or extra charges.
If a new one cannot be agreed in time, then the UK faces the prospect of having to trade with no deal in place. That would mean tariffs (taxes) on UK goods travelling to the EU and other trade barriers.
Why did Brexit take so long?
Brexit was originally meant to happen on 29 March 2019, but the deadline was delayed twice after MPs rejected the deal negotiated by Mrs May, the prime minister at the time.
Many Conservative MPs and the DUP (the government’s then ally in Parliament) were unhappy with the backstop – arguing that the UK could remain trapped in the arrangement for years with no way out.
After MPs voted down the deal for a third time, Mrs May resigned.
Mr Johnson needed a Brexit extension of his own after MPs failed to get the revised deal passed into law.
This led to the new deadline of 31 January 2020.
The Yucatan Times
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