what does Brexit mean for the UK

What does Brexit mean for the UK? (by someone who doesn’t know about politics) – Part One

There’s a lot of noise going on in British politics at the moment and, unsurprisingly, an awful lot of it is focused around the dreaded ‘B’ word. No, we don’t mean Boris Johnson – we’re talking about Brexit. The toing and froing around all things Brexit has been confusing for many, with each different expert having a seemingly different opinion on what will happen after 29th March. So, what does Brexit mean for the UK? We thought we’d get someone without a clue about politics to have a crack at working it all out.

Read on for our Brexit breakdown, and find out what on earth is really going on in the world of British politics. We’ll start with the basics, look at the main arguments for and against Brexit and take a look at what all the recent votes in the House of Commons are about. And, most importantly, we’ll address the question that concerns us the most: whether or not Milky Way Magic Stars (which aren’t currently sold outside of the EU) will still be available after Brexit or if we should stockpile them while we still can…

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Back to basics

In 2017, the UK government paid £13 billion to the EU budget. EU spending on the UK was forecast to be £4 billion, making the UK’s ‘net contribution’ an estimated £9 billion. Since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 and Article 50 (the official way of telling Europe we are leaving) was invoked in March 2017, there have been endless talks about how Britain should go about leaving. The biggest hurdle? That all 27 remaining EU parliaments have to agree to the deal.

But in order to understand all that, first, we need to go back to basics and define what the EU even is – especially seeing as this was the most searched term on Google after the result of the referendum in 2016 (yes, really). The EU is basically a club of 28 countries in Europe. Each country pays to be a member, and in return, each member gets access to the single market. “What is the single market?” I hear you cry. Well, this means that the EU runs itself like one market, so you could move to Spain almost as easily as you could to Liverpool – or that’s the general idea, anyway.

The whole point of the EU forming was to break down the barriers for trading, allowing countries within the EU free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour (and also, y’know, to avoid WWIII – but that’s a whole different can of worms). It’s this last part, the movement of labour, that has caused a lot of unrest and was probably the deciding factor in the Brexit vote. But if the movement of labour is limited, then so too is the free movement of goods, services and capital. Basically, it’s au revoir to the single market as we know it.

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The single market

You’ve probably heard the term single market being thrown around a lot in the last couple of years, and that’s because it mainly relates to trade — the hottest Brexit topic. Because the EU is run as one market when it comes to international trade it means that the US, for example, has to trade with the EU has a whole, and not with Britain, France, or Germany as individual countries. It also makes it easier for Britain to trade with other EU countries, as there are reduced taxes on imported goods.

So, if France wants to sell its wine in Britain, there basically won’t be any extra costs involved in doing so — whereas if the US wanted to sell its wine in Britain, it would have to trade with the EU as a whole, and then have an additional trade deal with different taxes and additional payments to sell it in the UK too. As the biggest trade union in the world, some could say that the single market is quite a handy thing to be part of really. So, if we leave the EU, can we stay in this exclusive cool kids trading club?

Can we stay in the single market if we leave the EU?

Erm, no. Basically, the UK can’t stay in the single market without following the EU rules and regulations. If we did stay in the market but made our own rules, it wouldn’t be a single market anymore — it would be two markets, and that’s clearly not an option. So what do we do? Well, one option is regulatory alignment, which is a posh way of saying we align our rules with those of the EU so we can still have access to the single market. It’s a softer Brexit option that could help with access to the trade club, like Norway.

Norway has a deal with the EU which means they are a part of the customs union. Another word frequently thrown around, it sounds a lot more technical than it is and basically just ensures that countries charge the same import costs to non-members of the union. However, in this scenario, the EU still has all the power (meaning those who voted for Brexit aren’t that keen), and Europe is still pretty miffed at us for leaving. One thing’s for sure, though – with 44% of our exports going to the EU, if we don’t negotiate a good trade deal, our exports would be subject to import tariffs and extra admin costs.

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What does parliament keep voting on?

There seems to be some kind of vote going on in parliament every five minutes at the moment. First, there was the vote on the Chequers Deal, where Theresa May put her long-worked-on Brexit deal to parliament only for it to be historically defeated. The heaviest defeat of a Prime Minister in the democratic era, her deal was rejected by a resounding majority of 230. Ouch. Next, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn called for a vote of no confidence, which the PM survived with a majority of 19.  

Still in Brexit deadlock, recently there were yet more votes in the House of Commons. MPs voted for an amendment by 317 votes to 301 to pass Theresa May’s Brexit deal if she can negotiate changes to the Irish backstop. The Prime Minister promised to return to the Commons with a revised deal to vote on by 13th February and hailed a “substantial and sustainable” Commons majority for leaving the EU. The only problem is, the EU immediately said the backstop wasn’t open for re-negotiation; this could make it pretty tricky for the PM to get a revised deal for the Commons to vote on when the EU has already made it clear they aren’t going to budge.

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What does this all mean? Basically, that as Theresa May heads back to Brussels for the billionth time, the Brexit saga continues to limp along. The Commons rejected a vote to extend Article 50 beyond the end of March, which means that D-Day is still looming in just two months time. And with No Deal looking more likely, the pound has dropped pretty sharply too.

As the drama continues to unfold, stay tuned for ‘Part Two’ of this blog series – what does Brexit mean for the UK? – where we look in more detail at the impact Brexit will have on our day-to-day lives. No need to panic, though! We’ve done a bit of research and it seems that for now, Magic Stars are most likely still going to be available. Phew!