While Britain officially leaves the EU at midnight on 31 Jan 2020, it is only to enter a transition period that will last till 31 December. So, in the short term, nothing much will change. The UK and EU negotiating teams then have to come up with a trade deal in 11 months. When the withdrawal deal took three years...
The British government wants a deal with Europe that it knows would mean staying aligned with EU laws and regulations, while negotiating its own deals with other countries which are likely to require the UK accepting to import and export goods which don’t meet EU standards.
Just in case you missed any of this exciting soap opera, here is a quick reminder of how we got here:
23 June 2016: British voters chose to leave the European Union in a referendum. Britain had been a member of the union since 1973.
29 March, 2017: Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, informing Brussels that the UK wanted to leave.
8 June 2017: Theresa May, who had replaced David Cameron as PM after the referendum, called a general election in the hopes of bolstering the Conservatives’ weak parliamentary majority. Instead, the party lost seats and was forced to enter an agreement with the Northern Irish DUP party to stay in power.
29 March 2019: Brexit Day… except it wasn’t. Mrs May hadn’t managed to Parliament to pass the Withdrawal Agreement, so her government had had to negotiate an extension to 31 October.
9 June: Theresa May resigned as Conservative leader.
24 July: The Conservative Party voted for Boris Johnson as May’s successor, and he became Prime Minister.
31 October: Brexit Day? No. Mr Johnson had suffered a series of defeats in Parliament and was forced to ask for another extension, to 31 January, 2020.
12 December: In a snap general election, the Conservative Party won a majority and proceeded to pass the withdrawal agreement.
31 January 2020: Brexit Day! Britain leaves the EU at midnight. The transition period begins.
31 December: End of the transition period.
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