Friday, 15 March 2019

What is Brexit and why is the UK’s withdrawal from the EU plunged in chaos?

BREXIT was born on June 23, 2016, when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Ever since, MPs have been trying to knock heads and secure a deal before we leave on March 29 at 11pm GMT. So what’s happening? Let us walk you through it.

The UK is leaving the European Union
The UK is leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019 – or that’s the plan
AFP or licensors

What is Brexit?

Brexit comes from merging the words “Britain” and “exit”.

The term has been widely used ever since the idea of a referendum on leaving the EU was put forward.

More than 30million people voted in the June 2016 referendum with a turnout of 71.8 per cent. Leave won by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

People now talk about “soft” and “hard” Brexit in reference to how close the UK will be to the EU post separation.

A soft Brexit means Britain will remain strong economic ties with the EU, with a hard Brexit meaning the UK leaves the single market entirely.

The road to triggering Article 50 — which saw Britain officially start the process of leaving the EU — was paved with complications for the PM, including a Supreme Court case ruling MPs needed to vote on Brexit negotiations.

But it was finally triggered on March 29, 2017, meaning the official departure date and move into the transition phase is due to take place on March 29, 2019.

Article 50: What it says

  • Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
  • A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
  • The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
  • For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  • If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

What is the European Union and why did Britain vote to leave?

The European Union is an economic and political partnership. There are currently 28 members states including the United Kingdom.

It began as a trade group of six nations in the 1950s.

The UK first applied to join what was then the European Economic Community in 1961 and finally became a member in 1973.

Now called the European Union, it has grown to include former Soviet bloc states and has at its heart a “single market” allowing goods and people to move freely.

It has its own parliament, central bank and the euro currency used by 19 countries, with some members including Britain opting to keep their own money.

Eurocrats have been pushing for ever closer political and financial union, which could include a European Army separate from the Nato alliance.

Those in favour of leaving said Britain was being held back by EU red tape with too many rules on business.

They also campaigned on the issue of sovereignty and said they wanted Britain to take back full control of its borders.

Beyond the question of ceasing to be a member of the EU, what Brexit actually means in practice has been the subject of intense debate ever since.

Loyal cabinet minister Michael Gove speaks to MPs before the Government vote of no confidence
Loyal cabinet minister Michael Gove speaks to MPs before the Government vote of no confidence
PA:Press Association

Why is the UK’s withdrawal from the EU plunged in chaos?

It’s been an obstacle-laden path ever since the UK attempted to leave the EU in June 2016.

The failure for MPs to back a “meaningful vote” to approve a deal Mrs May has struck with the EU has been an ongoing source of the chaos.

May has repeatedly gone back to Brussels – or most recently to Strasbourg – to seek a change the agreement concerning the Irish Backstop.

A horrendous few months have ended in a Brexit meltdown just weeks before the UK is supposedly meant to leave the EU.

This week a series of votes have seen MPs rule out a No Deal, a second referendum and back a delay to Brexit.

On March 14 the House of Commons endorsed Theresa May’s plan to ask Brussels for an extension to the Article 50 process.

The move means Britain WON’T quit the EU on March 29 – as the PM has promised for the past two years.

Mrs May will next week bring her Brexit deal back to the Commons for a third “meaningful vote”.

She says that if it passes, she will then ask the EU for a “short technical extension” until the end of June, to give Parliament the time to force through the necessary legislation.

But if the deal is defeated again, the PM has warned that Britain will have to stay in the EU beyond the summer and take part in European Parliament elections.

What happens after Brexit?

The transition period is a bridging agreement between the current situation – where we are members of the EU – and our long-term relationship outside the bloc.

Also known as an “implementation phase”, it allows for the UK to keep some of the same arrangements with Brussels on trade and other matters until a new comprehensive trade agreement is sealed.

In March 2018, Britain secured a transition deal that will also allow ministers to seek trade agreements around the globe.

The UK will also be free to set its own foreign policy as soon as Brexit happens, as well as negotiate and sign new trade deals anywhere in the world – to implement them in 2021.

However EU chiefs made it clear the period, which allows the UK to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, will only come into force if the Irish border is sorted.

The UK will not be fully out of the EU until December 31, 2020 – four and a half years after the historic referendum decision.

But EU leaders have suggested they could extend the transition period further.

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