It took two general elections, three prime ministers and just over 4.5 years, but as of today Britain finally has the Brexit it voted for in June 2016.
The big picture: Britain has left the European single market and customs union and is no longer governed by European law.
- Yes, but: Northern Ireland is still part of the UK, while negotiating as if it were part of Europe. This means that anyone transporting goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain must first complete a customs declaration.
- An analogy: Imagine businesses in Alaska able to trade freely with Canada and Mexico, but needing to fill out paperwork to import or export anything to the rest of the United States.
- Gibraltar, likewise, will join the Schengen area. This means Europeans will be able to enter and exit freely, while visitors to the UK are required to show their passports at border control.
The trade agreement with Europe puts zero tariffs on goods. However, most of the UK economy is in the service sector – which is not covered by the agreement at all. (UK businesses only had a week to prepare for the new trade regime, which was agreed upon on Christmas Eve.)
- Britain exports around $ 35 billion in financial services to the EU each year, and an additional $ 134 billion in other services including legal, accounting, advertising, architectural, insurance, technical assistance And much more.
- When it comes to UK trade relations with the rest of the world, 62 trade deals have been signed – although many important deals, including the US, China and India, are still in limbo. .
In numbers: The UK’s Office for Fiscal Responsibility estimates that Brexit will leave the country around 4% poorer than it would have been under the EU.
- It’s just the economic cost. The cultural costs associated with ending the free movement of labor between Britain and the continent are less quantifiable, but arguably greater.
- Europe and the UK may also be less secure, now that UK police no longer have access to the Schengen Information System. Last year they queried Europe’s largest security database more than 1.6 million times a day.
The future of the UK is also in danger.
- Scotland wants to secede and become an independent European nation.
- North Ireland could vote to leave the UK and join Ireland, reuniting the island.
The other side: “For the first time since 1973, we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, announcing the agreement.
The bottom line: Over the past 40 years, Britain has found peace and prosperity as one of the most important players in a community of over 400 million people. From today, it has become an island off the coast of Europe again.