The UK is scheduled to depart the EU at 11pm UK time on Friday March 29, 2019. Both parties have now agreed on the three key separation issues: how much the UK owes the EU, what happens to the Northern Ireland border and what happens to the rights of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and vice versa. Current talks include future trade relations between the UK and the EU, focusing on a potential transition period of approximately two years.


 

Negotiations

Agreement on the three divorce issues was reached on December 8 with the ‘Breakthrough’ deal. There will be no ‘hard border’ with Ireland; the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be protected; and the ‘divorce bill’ will amount to between £35bn and £39bn.

What’s going to happen to all the EU laws in force in the UK?

The Conservative government has introduced the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which is supposed to incorporate all EU legislation into UK law all at once, after which the government will decide over a period of time what to keep, change and remove.

What is the Labour Party’s position on Brexit?

In mid august Shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, announced  that the party wants to keep the UK in the single market and a customs union during transition period. Labour also accepts free movement of people, payments into the EU budget and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice during the transition. However there are still divisions within the party about the single market decision.

What is the single market?

The EU single market allows the free movement of goods, services, people and money within the European Union, as if it was a single country. It is possible to set up a business or take a job anywhere within it. It was set up to boost trade, create jobs and lower prices in 1992.

Can the UK cut all ties with the EU in March 2019?

Yes. However, the government would like to avoid a situation where current regulations on things like cross-border, trade and travel end overnight because it could harm the economy.

What has happened to the UK economy since the Brexit vote?

Although remain advocates including former PM David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne predicted an immediate economic crisis if the UK voted to leave, the UK’s economy has continued to grow at a satisfactory pace; 1.8 per cent in 2016 and  almost the same rate in 2017, second among the world’s G7 industrialised nations. Inflation, nonetheless, has risen standing at 3.1 per cent, but unemployment continues to fall, standing at 4.3 per cent.

What happens to the pound?

The pound slumped the day after the referendum and remains around 10 per cent lower against the dollar and 15 per cent down against the euro. Currency experts say that even if the pound regains some of its value, it is expected to remain at least 10 per cent below. This means UK goods will be cheaper but imported goods will get more expensive.

What we know so far is that the transition period will not continue beyond December 31, 2020. This means that the UK will continue to follow EU trade law, will stay in the single market, and rulings of the European Court of Justice will continue to apply during this phase.