Brexit. A word that divided an entire country became a firm reality on December 31st.
After years of squabbling, scaremongering, debating and negotiating, the United Kingdom finally left the Economic Union at the dawn of 2021, stepping into a new era. The much feared ‘no deal’ Brexit was banished with last-ditch talks providing some respite for Boris Johnson’s government as the Guardian explains. Both the EU and the UK came away from those protracted and often fraught negotiations claiming victory.
Brexit divided a nation, and to a degree it still does. A guide to Brexit by Gala Bingo explains how the British public was never far from a debate about the EU, leading up to the June 2016 referendum, in its aftermath and the years that have since passed. Whilst there are few winners in a political game of tug of war which has lasted half a decade, the time for talking is over and the time for change is upon us. The United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU – so what happens next?
If you are expecting things to become smoother, sadly you will be disappointed. Brexit, deal or no deal, will cause huge changes across all walks of life and there will be a settling down period as the deal comes into effect. Whilst the UK Government ratified the deal in a December 30th vote, EU officials are expected to go over the 1500-page document well into the New Year before rubber-stamping it. It will still be enforceable in the early weeks of 2021, as EU law includes a mechanism for agreements to be provisionally applied in the absence of parliament consent.
That means the passing of goods between borders, Calais and Dover in particular, should still be allowed. The recent refusal by France to accept traffic from the UK saw thousands of lorries stuck on the M20, with drivers spending Christmas Day in their cabs. Some considered that an ominous foreshadowing of the future, and whilst goods will be allowed through under the deal, queues at those flashpoints are still expected. The Brexit deal allows for the continuation of trade, but it does not remove the delays caused by a hard border. If you live around the M20, expect plenty of queues and increased traffic, but do not worry – the supermarkets should be well stocked as we enter the New Year.
Industry will certainly be affected, especially those that trade with the EU. Even if you do not, then regulations may alter as we exit the agreed EU regulations and implement our own. Businesses in the UK have been urged to undertake a free ‘health check’, to ensure they are prepared for the ramifications of Brexit and not likely to fall foul of changes to laws or regulations. Whilst the impact might not be immediate, it is hoped by leave campaigners that there will be less red tape and bureaucracy tying industries up in knots.
Red tape will certainly be a problem when it comes to free movement to EU member states by UK citizens, and those rules will come into force immediately. UK citizens will need to apply for a visa if they wish to stay for longer than 90 days in any 180-day period in those countries. Also, if you want to take your pet abroad, be aware that EU pet passports will no longer be valid either.
Those are the fundamental changes that will apply almost immediately, but the full force of Brexit may not be felt for many years. The UK will no longer have to abide by rulings laid out by the European Court of Justice, which could see long-term changes to laws we have been bound by for many years.