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UK’s Explainer: Boris Johnson back at the helm but which way Brexit?

By Sigomba Ramadhan Omar | December 13th 2019 at 03:37:00 GMT +0300

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to get Brexit done on January 31. [AFP]

Brexit is back on track after Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a resounding election on Friday which, he says, will allow him to execute it.

But what is Brexit?

Brexit means British Exit, referring to the United Kingdom (UK) leaving the European Union (EU). The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The EU is a unified trade and political bloc comprising 28 European countries allowing free movement of goods and people except for random stop checks for crime and drugs.

EU citizens can live and work in the country of their choice.

The UK joined the EU in 1975 and will be the first state to withdraw from the union if the Brexit deal comes to pass.

Why Brexit?

There are many reasons why the UK wants out of the EU but here are the major ones.

To ensure a level playing field for all European countries, the wealthier nations like France, Germany and the UK had to contribute some amount of money to the EU budget which money finds its way to bloc’s poor countries.

The wealthier the country the more it contributes and with the improving UK's economy, their net contribution increased.

Some Brits think this is unfair and slows the UK's growth for the benefit of other countries.

Another argument raised to push for Brexit is that EU membership hampers the UK's trade ties outside the trading bloc.   

Lastly, the EU makes it much easier for citizens of another country to migrate to another. Some Britons are unhappy with many foreigners moving to their country.

According to vox.com Britain's foreign-born population skyrocketed after it joined the EU.

Why is Brexit taking long?

It has been more than three years since the UK first voted to leave the EU but Brexit has not yet been realised.

The majority of the UK voted in favour of Brexit in a 2016 referendum but since then there have been unending debates and negotiations to ensure a swift transition.

Some Britons want to remain in the bloc since Brexit means they will now have to pay more to sell in the EU member countries.

The EU is adamant that the UK cannot keep some benefits without membership. The flipside is that, with Brexit, the UK is free to make other trade deals around the world.

Initially, Brexit was to be effected on March 29, 2019, two years after former PM Theresa May failed to convince the MPs with Brexit deal leading to her resignation.

The MPs rejected May's Brexit deal twice delaying the deadline further to October 31.

MPs rejected former Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal because of the Irish backstop. [Courtesy, BBC]

The MPs rejected May's deal because of the Irish backstop. It called for removal of barriers between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

Most MPs opined that the use of the backstop would trap the UK into EU for years preventing the country from striking trade deals with other countries.

When Boris Johnson took over as PM, he slightly changed May’s deal by replacing the backstop with new customs post between Northern Ireland and the UK.

That meant that some goodsfrom the UK to Northern Ireland would have to pay EU import taxes.

Despite tabling a revised deal, PM Johnson failed to beat the lates deadline, October 31 after MPs failed to pass it into law.

The EU agreed extend the deadline to next year January 31.

Today's Johnson's win, however, could see the UK leave before the new deadline if a deal is approved by the new government.

What if Brexit fails?

Experts say Brexit failure would lead to economic crisis to the UK although it is not clear how long it will be affected.

If the Brexit deal fails, the EU will start carrying out checks on British goods because the UK will leave the customs union and single market, the BBC reported.

The move would lead to the disruption of supply routes which could lead to slow movements of goods.

Other projected concerns include falling of the pound, scarcity of some food and a potential shortage of medicines.

But PM Johnson said that the government has set aside £2.1bn to cater for the challenges in case the Brexit deal fails to happen. ??


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