A road to uncertainty

UK to leave the EU in March, entering uncharted territory of “transition period”, while demand for a referendum on the terms of the deal grows

Since June 23, 2016, when 52% of British voters voted to leave the European Union, the country has been wending its way down a torturous path towards an exit. According to Theresa May, who signed off her Brexit deal with fellow EU leaders in Brussels yesterday, the UK will leave the EU on March 29 of next year, regardless of whether its parliament ends up approving the divorce agreement or not. That said, all indications at present point to May not having the support to get parliamentary approval when the deal is voted upon in December. Nonetheless, from the 29th March, she asserts the UK will enter the “transition period”, which will last 21 months until December 31, 2020, and during which the two sides must firm up the details of their future political and economic relationship – in particular British access to the single market. During this time, the United Kingdom will continue to be subject to European rules and courts and will continue to be part of the single market and the customs union, but will not have a voice or vote in the decisions taken by the 27 EU leaders. In the midst of this, European elections will take place in May of next year, the first in which British voters will no longer be electing MEPs in the European Parliament. This is the theoretical Brexit calendar, but there is no guarantee the whole process won’t derail next month in London with a parliamentary rejection of the agreement. If this were to happen, complete uncertainty would abound, and in theory, a renegotiation of the deal would be a possible outcome, though this scenario was dismissed as unlikely by leaders in Brussels yesterday.

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