When the United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union, it will mark one of the biggest political and economic shifts to ever happen in modern Europe. For the last few years, many have been wondering if Brexit will even happen at all. The U.K. and the E.U. have certainly been taking their sweet time coming to terms of what their future relationship looks like — and at times, it’s felt like no resolution would be reached. But, after much back and forth and waiting (and protesting, and waiting), Brexit Day is finally here.
The U.K. has been contentiously divided over how exactly to exit the E.U., with the bitter split between those who want to leave and those who want to remain (aptly dubbed the “remainers”) tearing apart political parties in the country. Last year, Trump-like Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised he would make Brexit official for the U.K. in a “do or die” promise by October deadline. After, the U.K. Parliament did kill the deal three times in opposition to former Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans last year.
“At last the day comes when we break free. A massive victory for the people against the establishment,” said Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party. Finally, years of heated debate have led us to the day that Britain finally formally leaves the European Union — the end of a 47-year partnership. Ahead, we’ve laid out all the things you need to know about Brexit day.
When is Brexit officially happening?
As of 11 p.m. London time tonight, on January 31, 2020, Brexit is officially happening. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to speak ahead of the big moment, and members of the Brexit Party will throw a celebration in Parliament Square. While January 31 is technically Brexit Day, it isn’t going to go into effect immediately. The European Union dictates when Britain departs from it, which means that Brexit will officially be in place as of 11 p.m. London time or at the stroke of midnight in Brussels. For those of you who aren’t fond of time zone math, that’s 6 o’clock on the East coast of the U.S. or 3 p.m. in California.
When does Brexit go into effect?
When the clock strikes 11 in Britain, there won’t be any carriages turning into pumpkins or riches to rags. Everything will remain relatively the same, actually, until the end of 2020. Now will begin a transition period where the U.K. will continue to follow all E.U. rules without being a member of the E.U. Something called the “political declaration” will help to set some broader principles for the deals to come.
The next 11 months will be a period of negotiation where the UK and EU will be tasked with figuring out the future terms of their relationship. However, if no solutions can be reached, negotiations could actually last until 2022 or 2023, as set forth in the withdrawal agreement. Honestly, sounds like a messy breakup.
Who are the leavers & the remainers?
Those who support Brexit and voted for it, and who are glad to be leaving the European Union, have been dubbed the “leavers.” However, those who voted against Brexit and who are unhappy with the choice to leave the EU are known as the “remainers.” In the aftermath of Brexit, remainers will be looking to keep Britain as close to the EU as possible.
While the leavers will be celebrating across the country tonight, it’s been reported that many remainers will be hosting events to mourn the exit of the E.U., with protests planned as well.
Why is Brexit happening now?
The U.K. has been trying to resolve Brexit since 2016 when there was a vote, in which 52% of the country gave notice that they wanted out of the European Union. After both sides agreed to and ratified the Brexit deal, it was only a matter of letting Article 50, which kept the UK as part of the EU, run out. Brexit is happening now after years of push-backs and negotiations, with senior leaders in the EU finally agreeing and signing the deal recently.
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