Saturday December 04, 2021

Britain’s exit

December 28, 2020

Nearly four and a half years after the people of the UK narrowly voted to quit the EU, the agreement outlining the terms of this withdrawal have been finalised. While some of the details still have to be worked out and agreed upon, the agreement on a deal finally rules out the possibility of what was being called a ‘No Deal Brexit’ or an exit from the EU by Britain without any agreement, which would have led to soaring in prices of goods exported and imported by Britain as well as by the EU. This would have created all kinds of problems for economies already badly hit by Covid-19. There were also likely to have been other complications.

The deal reached a few days before the December 31st deadline for Brexit prevents this. But people wait and watch to see how things will roll out next. In the first place, Europeans working in Britain have till June next year to determine if they are eligible to continue that work or if they must leave the country. The sentiment among Britons that too many Europeans were taking over jobs in the UK was one of the factors behind Brexit. We should however remember that Brexit does not affect people from outside the EU who work or live in Britain and have done so for generations. In addition, under the agreement reached now, and which Boris Johnson has urged the heavily conservative dominated UK Parliament to approve as quickly as possible, people from Britain wishing to visit EU states will need to go through more practicalities and restrictions before they can do so. This may mean that it will take them time to plan visits to European centres, while the same will apply to European visitors to Britain.

The most important part of the agreement may however be the deal that there will be no increase in prices of goods exchanged between the countries. This comes as excellent news for both sides locked in this situation. There are also implications for fishing and other kinds of trade between Britain and the EU. The full ramifications of this may take time to surface. Britain had accused Europe of trying to take revenge for pulling out of the European Union. Initially, it had seemed some others such as Greece may follow. That has not happened yet. But there is no doubt nations will be watching the impact of Britain’s pull-out closely and what happens next may be determined by what they see.