What’s going on with Brexit?
Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
One of the biggest new stories is Brexit. As we are hopefully fast approaching a decision, here is a brief history of the long path to Brexit. On June 23, 2016, about 30 million people voted on whether the United Kingdom (U.K.) should remain or leave the European Union. Fast forward to Dec. 15, 2017, which was the deadline for Theresa May (Prime Minister of the U.K. and Leader of the Conservative Party, 2016-2019) to meet the European Union’s (E.U.) demands for the first phase of Brexit. These demands were concerning E.U. citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and a financial settlement. The seventh round and second phase of Brexit negotiations, taking place from Feb. 6-9, 2018, focused on the three issues of transition period, Ireland’s border, and governance of the withdrawal agreement.
On Feb. 28, 2018 a draft withdrawal agreement was published by the European Commission between the E.U. and the U.K. The six areas of focus mostly concerning the protocol of Ireland and Northern Ireland included: introductory provisions, citizen’s rights, separation issues, transitional arrangements, financial provisions, and institutional provisions. On March 23, 2018, the European Council adopted guidelines regarding the future relationship with the U.K. post-Brexit. They came to the conclusion of wanting the closest possible relationship that included things such as trade guidelines, economic partnerships, and security. On Nov. 25, 2018, the European Council leaders approved the draft of the Brexit agreement for future relations between the U.K. and the E.U. On March 21, 2019, a Brexit delay request was made by Theresa May to Donald Tusk for June 30, 2019, and Tusk reluctantly agreed to the short delay. On April 20, 2019, E.U. leaders agreed to a further extension for Brexit to Oct. 31, 2019. Fast-forward to Oct. 28, when members of Parliament neglected to pass a motion to call an early election which complicated things even more. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act states that two-thirds of all members of Parliament are needed to back a motion for an early election agreement. Due to this, Parliament passed a bill simply calling for an election. In addition, they rejected an amendment that would move the general election date from Dec. 12 to Dec. 9.
Members of Parliament also agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until Jan. 31, 2020, although the U.K. would be able to leave earlier. This could mean that they can leave as of Dec. 1 or Jan. 1, but only if it is ratified by both parties.
Now that Oct. 31 has come and gone, Brexit will depend on the outcome of the general election in Dec. This could turn to implementation of the deal that Boris Johnson has negotiated with the E.U. This would mean a new withdrawal agreement bill would have to be introduced in Parliament, and, in addition, go back to the beginning of its passage. This is what the Conservatives’ hope to accomplish. Another option is to implement another referendum, but this would require a further delay of Brexit. This option gets full support from the Independent Group for Change, the Green Party, Labour, the Scottish National Party, and Plaid Cymru. An additional option is a no-deal Brexit which is done by default if no deal is passed by Jan. 31, 2020. This gets full support of the Brexit Party. The last option is to cancel Brexit which is supported by the Liberal Democrats, but is not a clear option from the current government.