UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Boris Johnson nevertheless fulfilled his high-profile promise “to withdraw the country from the EU or die.” Britain leaves the European Union, having not reached three years before the 50th anniversary of his stay in the organization (taking into account membership in the EEC).
Now billions of pounds will go to compensation to Brussels, and politicians on both sides of the English Channel will have tense negotiations on the conditions for further cooperation.
“Go away. Goodbye.”
After almost a year of postponements, debates, votes, scandals, a change of prime minister and early elections, Britain finally decided. What some already thought unfeasible will happen at 11:00 p.m. London time on Friday, January 31.
“This is a new chapter for an independent, sovereign Great Britain, ahead is a decade of renewal and new opportunities,” said Foreign Minister Dominic Raab. “Whether we are reducing trade barriers between countries, working on climate change or improving the lives of people around the world, our vision of truly fitting into the global world of Britain will be the basis for good deeds,” Raab pompously noted before the start of the latter for British deputies meetings in the European Parliament at which they made a final decision on the Brexit procedure. In the end, 621 parliamentarians voted for Britain to leave the European Union, against 49.
Farewell passed emotionally. The politicians passing into the category of former colleagues shook hands and sang with tears in their eyes “Old Good Time” (“Auld Lang Syne”) – a Scottish song that was traditionally performed on New Year, and then on other holidays. Deputies one by one rose from their seats to utter the last word. The solemn moment, however, was interrupted by single unfriendly cries from the audience of “disgrace” and “losers.”
There was a place for the elements of the show. The British parliamentarian Nigel Farage, who gained notoriety because of his tough Euro-skeptical position, waving a small British flag, recited: “We do not need the European Commission, we do not need the European Court, we do not need the EU organizations … we love Europe, but we hate the EU.”
In the words that London would be happy to cooperate with the European Union as an independent state, they turned off the microphone. “Sit down and take away your flags, you go away, so take them with you, go away. Goodbye,” Deputy Speaker Mairead McGuinness cut short the presentation.
At the same time, in Britain, the conservative party celebrates its triumph in the December elections and the victory of Boris Johnson’s slogan “Brexit!” (“Get Brexit done”). On the party’s website you can order souvenirs, but with the slogan “Finished Brexit!” (“Got Brexit done”).
A kitchen towel with the image of Johnson confidently walking inside a wreath with a British flag will cost 12 pounds, the same magnet – six. Limited circles with the premier’s motto – 15 pounds, badge – five. One problem – delivery of memorable gifts to the event itself will not be in time.
Most of the provisions of the “divorce treaty” were agreed with the EU by former Prime Minister Theresa May, who left office in June because the British Parliament did not want to accept her plan. Johnson, who replaced her, threw out the point from the plan that caused the most controversy: the so-called Irish screening – backstop.
For a long time, it was not possible to decide what to do with the only land border between the EU and Britain – the 500-kilometer border separating Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There is no border infrastructure there and cannot be according to the Belfast Agreement, or the Good Friday Agreement. 20 years ago, it put an end to the political conflict in Northern Ireland, and the appearance of the checkpoint threatened new outbreaks of violence.
Observers wondered how customs clearance could be carried out if there were no conditions for this.
In the end, it was decided that some (which will be determined later) that the British companies want to export to the EU will be inspected before being sent to Northern Ireland, and companies will pay tax at the same stage.
The remaining provisions of the agreement remained virtually unchanged. Among them are rights for EU citizens in Britain and British nationals in the European Union: they will remain unchanged for the entire transit period. The amount that London will pay Brussels as compensation, will be about 30 billion pounds (about 2.5 trillion rubles).
These figures are the sum of Britain’s share in the EU budget until 2020 and other remaining financial obligations to the organization.
However, Brexit is not the end of the procedure. Within 11 months – until December 31, 2020 – the so-called transit, or implementation, period will go on. A detailed discussion of future contours of cooperation will begin, according to some sources, in early March.
The main goal is to develop a mechanism by which Britain will retain the benefits of a common market with the EU and the customs union, but will no longer be represented in various EU bodies and lose the right to influence political decision-making. During transit, London will continue to follow pan-European laws, but will not be able to propose new initiatives.
In theory, if they don’t have time to agree on new rules, transit can be extended for two years, but Boris Johnson has categorically opposed the delay of the process, since his party members would not have approved such a development of events.
The key topic of discussion will be trade cooperation. During the transit period, the trade relations of the parties will not change. At its end, Britain will leave the EU Customs Union and withdraw from the free trade agreement, under which British goods can move freely around Europe without checks and tariffs.
The parties have to conclude a new agreement – ideally there will be no place for quotas and tariffs.
During this time, it will also be necessary to determine how British-European cooperation will look in other areas: justice, security and data exchange, aviation standards, access to water for fishing, electricity and gas supplies, and licensing of medicines.
The procedure is supposed to be completed by the end of November 2020. At this point, the contract should be discussed, verified, translated and submitted to the European Parliament.
The thirty-first of December 2020 will become a point of no return; by this moment the free trade agreement should be ratified. If this does not happen, Britain will trade with the EU according to the rules of the World Trade Organization. Some observers equate this option with an exit without an agreement that they tried so hard to avoid.
The final chord will sound on the last day of 2022. This is the deadline by which the transit period can be extended. At this point, all controversial issues in theory will finally be settled and the “Brexit drama” will finally end.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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