On Jan. 31 at 11 p.m. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), the United Kingdom officially departed from the European Union after 47 years of membership and more than three years after its June 2016 referendum in which 51.9% of Britons voted in favor of leaving the European Union.
Britain’s split with the European Union was secured when its Conservative Party won December’s general election. Ultimately, this paved the way for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to pass legislation through British Parliament in early January to set the terms of Britain’s departure. Prior to Prime Minister Johnson’s term, Britain’s previous prime minister, Theresa May, infamously had trouble with Brexit, enduring years of criticism for her inability to deliver Brexit, stating that it was a matter of “deep regret” that she had been unable to do so.
“For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come,” Mr. Johnson said in his address to the nation on Brexit Day. “[T]he most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning. This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama. And yes it is partly about using these new powers—this recaptured sovereignty—to deliver the changes people voted for.”
One of these changes being Britain’s transition to a country independent from the European Union. Set to end on Dec. 31, Britain’s 11-month transition period will include all aspects of migration, trade, and security. During this transition period, Britons are still able to live, work, study and retire to the EU, while nationals residing in the EU enjoy those reciprocal rights in the UK. On Jan. 1, 2021, however, the UK will officially be outside EU rules. At the moment, both Britain and the EU have taken steps to ensure a new free trade deal that promises to maintain open and fair competition.
“Will [Britain] continue to adhere to Europe’s societal and regulatory model in the future, or will it seek to diverge? The UK answer to this question will be fundamental to the level of ambition of our future relationship and the UK must know this,” bloc chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier said.
By ensuring a new free trade deal, Britain hopes that British companies can avoid obstructions that entangle supply chains and cause prices of certain British products and services to be driven up.
Furthermore, Britain hopes that their bloc with the European Union will include even more trade agreements that deal with manufactured goods and services, both of which are a considerable amount of the economy. If there is no trade agreement by the end of 2020, Britain will be forced to enforce tariffs and disrupt borders, causing no-deal Brexit British lawmakers to worry about to become reality.
Mr. Johnson himself also proclaims to further segregate Britain from the European Union by dividing the country from the European Union’s standards on labor, the environment, and product safety, all of which he hopes to boost Britain’s economy.
“This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances—your family’s life chances—should depend on which part of the country you grow up in.”