Dear readers, with our latest article we left you just before the initial Brexit deadline of the 29th of March. A lot has happened in the meantime, and Rostra is here to help you to keep up with everything, along with grasping what and why it took place. If understanding Brexit always caused you headaches, I hope this article will be helpful!
First of all, why was the deadline extended in the first place?
After a deal with the EU was rejected three times by the House of Commons, the options left were either to leave without an agreement (the ‘’no-deal’’ perspective) or to extend the negotiation period. Since the former would have been damaging for both sides, MPs opted to extend the deadline to the 31st of October. This political defeat led Theresa May to announce she would have resigned as PM, laying the ground for the former minister and London mayor Boris Johnson, who supported the Leave campaign ever since the word ‘’Brexit’’ was forged. As soon as he was appointed, Johnson pursued his motto ‘’getting Brexit done’’ without wasting time.
At the end of August, with an unexpected move, the Queen (after request) allowed the PM to suspend Parliament for five weeks. In the eye of the government, this was justified by the need for outlining some nation-wide policies and because that is the period when party conferences usually take place. However, even though a prorogation itself is not rare, its length aroused many doubts about the government’s intent. It was accused to be trying to tackle the opposition’s attempt of preventing a no-deal scenario and to scrutinize Johnson’s Brexit proposal. This prorogation was later ruled unlawful.
Another suspension was proposed, this time for just a few days. Johnson motivated it by asserting the need for a Queen’s speech, always held on the re-opening day after a prorogation, used to outline the future government’s policies. The speech, labeled an ‘’election manifesto’’ from the opposition, ultimately took place on the 14th of October.
In the meantime, the ‘’European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019’’ passed in Parliament. This Act requires the UK PM to propose an extension in case a withdrawal agreement has not been reached or a no-deal scenario is not agreed on. Since this was the case, the PM was forced to officially request it to the EU, receiving the confirmation on the 28th of October with a tweet of the President of the European Council Donal Tusk.
The latest news concern the general election on the 12th of December. The government mainly triggered it to enlarge the consensus of the Conservative Party, which currently does not hold a majority. The opposition was divided about the situation: while some saw it as an opportunity to take down the government (like the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn), others either attempted to avoid it to completely stop Brexit or would have supported only a public vote on Brexit itself. Ultimately, MPs accepted Boris Johnson’s request, and political campaigns of the single parties were given a go.
But what will Brexit cause, aside from politics? Firstly, according to The Economist and other renowned journals, the relocation of many businesses outside the UK. This especially involves firms without many assets, many of which already moved to cities like Amsterdam for trading services, Dublin for asset managers or Frankfurt for bankers. Many firms, for example, the car manufacturer Vauxhall, threatened to leave in case no assurances would be given. Some have already left, like the household appliances producer Dyson which moved to Singapore.
The Economist estimates that £1 trillion of assets will move outside the UK. Looking at trade deals, being out of the single market will require negotiations to reach agreements that might or might not be more favorable than before the split. Additionally, it will exempt the UK from the protection of the European Court of Justice. According to a recent study of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, the UK economy is expected to shrink by 3.5%. The research also stated that the UK will be left £70 billion worse off because of the latest Boris Johnson’s deal, compared to the scenario of remaining in the EU.
The public is divided about whether the UK made a smart choice or not. While it seems that most people are of the opinion that ‘’the UK will lose more than the EU’’ or ‘’they already had their currency, trade deals and vast controls over incoming people/goods, what could they want more?’’, others affirm that they have the right to pursue their autonomy as long as it is pursued democratically. But what is sure is that due to the magnitude of its social and geopolitical repercussions everybody should be up to date with the latest developments.