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Brexit: all the questions you ask yourself

The month of January 2019 promises to be decisive for the United Kingdom. British MPs must vote on the agreement negotiated by Theresa May with the European Union before 21 January to begin a transition period of one and a half years. Otherwise, it will be " hard Brexit, a brutal exit from the European treaties, as of March 29, 2019.

The Cross takes stock of Brexit and possible scenarios.

What is Brexit?

► The expression "Brexit" is the abbreviation of British Exit in English, which means "The exit of the United Kingdom".

It refers to the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU), voted on 23 June 2016 after a referendum promised by David Cameron, then British Prime Minister.

The words to understand Brexit

Why did the UK decide to leave the European Union?

► The referendum on whether or not to keep the UK in the EU was a campaign promise by British Prime Minister David Cameron while he was seeking a second term in 2015. In February 2016, he announced that the vote would be on June 23, 2016.

The British Eurosceptics had long been campaigning for a Brexit. Their arguments? The European Union would have changed enormously since joining the economic market in 1973. These pro-Brexit consider that the UK has lost control over political issues such as immigration, the economy and trade. Leaving the European Union would be a good point to regain their national sovereignty.

Brexit: a non negotiable British sovereignty

When was the Brexit voted?

► The Brexit was voted on June 23, 2016, by 72.21% of those registered on the British electoral lists, ie more than 33 million voters.

The specific question of the referendum was: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? "

51.89% of the voters answered "Leaving the European Union". It was, and remains, the first time that the population of a Member State has come out in favor of leaving the European Union.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned for the UK to remain in the Union, resigned on June 24, 2016. He was replaced by former Home Affairs Minister Theresa May, who responsible for negotiations around Brexit.

Brexit wins with 51.9% of the vote

When will the United Kingdom leave the European Union?

Two hypotheses were envisaged at the beginning of 2019.

In case of agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU, the British and the Europeans will be entitled to a transition period of one and a half years from 29 March 2019 to negotiate the economic agreements, particularly with regard to customs. Time is running out because this agreement must be signed before 21 January 2019. In this case, the United Kingdom should leave the EU before 31 December 2020.

If the UK and the EU do not agree by January 21, 2019, the British and Europeans will divorce "by force" on March 29, 2019. If the anti-Brexit have said they would do anything to avoid this assumption, it is considered more and more seriously.

Why wait until the end of March 2017 to start the process?

► The High Court of Justice in London ruled on 3 November 2016 that the referendum did not give the British government the power to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which officially launches Brexit.

The British Parliament had to vote on 8 February and 13 March 2017. A large majority of parliamentarians voted for the adoption of the bill, giving Theresa May the means to activate Article 50.

The Prime Minister was able to officially announce that the exit process of the EU would be triggered on March 29, 2017 at midnight, UK time, leaving two years in London to negotiate its exit from the Union.

Between London and Brussels, the Brexit strategy "fuzzy"

What happens if London and Brussels can not find an agreement?

► The UK Parliament has until 21 January 2019 to vote on Theresa May's Brexit agreement with the EU. A vote that was to take place on December 13, 2018, but was postponed against the prospect of failure.

This agreement does not seem to satisfy either the pro-Brexit, who fear being still too dependent on the EU, or the anti-Brexit who still hope to be able to back down.

If the British parliament does not vote for this agreement before 21 January, the procedure of Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union will follow its course: the United Kingdom will definitively leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 without agreement ("No deal").

The country would come out "Brutally" of the EU and its single market – it would be a "hard Brexit" or "hard Brexit" – and would immediately be treated like any other country outside the Union. With economic and political consequences difficult to quantify.

Brexit: London and Brussels are preparing for a "No Deal"

What is a " hard Brexit?

A " hard Brexit, or "hard Brexit," means a pure and simple exit from the single European market.

In mid-January 2017, Theresa May engaged the United Kingdom in a "Hard" Brexit to allow his country to regain control of its immigration policy. Which in turn meant the return of customs barriers even if the prime minister pleaded for a future trade agreement "Bold and ambitious".

Since July then November 2018, Theresa May defends a line more app ". A position that pushed two eurosceptic figures, David Davis, the minister responsible for Brexit, and Boris Johnson, the foreign minister, to resign.

Brexit, the three major points of the agreement

What is a " app Brexit?

The "Soft" Brexit, or "Sweet Brexit", means the maintenance, in whole or in part, of the single market.

This position has been championed by Theresa May since July 2018. Negotiators have agreed that the UK will exit the single European market, at its request, after the transition period, after the 31 December 2020. During this transition period, the United Kingdom would remain in a customs union with the EU, until both parties have finalized a free trade agreement that is considered satisfactory.

This solution does not seem to satisfy the Eurosceptics, who expect a harder Brexit and not a half Brexit Nor British Europhiles, who are still hoping for a cancellation or postponement of Brexit.

Who negotiated the Brexit deal?

► European side, it's French Michel Barnier, former foreign minister and former European commissioner, who has been appointed to be the chief negotiator of the EU for Brexit. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has also played an important role.

► In the United Kingdom, Theresa May's negotiating committee is made up of Conservative ministers, including the Brexit Secretary of State. David Davis held this position until his resignation on July 9, 2018. He was replaced by Dominic Raab, who also resigned on November 14th.

Since the summer of 2018, Theresa May had left it to her to prepare for Brexit (UK legislation and future relationship with the EU), while she had taken over the reins of negotiations with the EU.

► It's Eurosceptic today Stephen Barclay who occupies this position.

Theresa May on the bridge to convince that her Brexit is the right one

What will happen to Europeans living in the UK?

► European and British negotiators have taken steps to reassure the three million European citizens residing in the United Kingdom and the one million Britons living in EU countries about maintaining their freedom of movement. They have recognized from the preamble to the agreement the need for "Provide reciprocal protection" to enforce their rights.

The first chapter of the agreement, entitled "Citizens' rights", indicates that they will have "The right to live permanently in their host country" five years after their arrival. They will be able to enforce this right until the end of the transition period, scheduled for 31 December 2020.

Will the British need a visa to come to the European Union?
Will 27 nationals need it to go to the UK?

► In the event of an agreement before 21 January 2019, British citizens will be able to continue to travel in Europe without a visa, and vice versa.

If London and Brussels can not reach an agreement, the European Commission first proposed not to impose a visa on UK nationals in the EU, provided that London does the same for EU nationals in the UK.

Today, it seems that citizens' freedom of movement in Europe will be ensured whether or not there is an agreement on Brexit, at least "For short trips".

Will Scotland and Ireland seek their independence?

Scotland had held a referendum on its independence on 18 September 2014: the " No " then obtained 55.3% of the votes cast. And in the Brexit referendum in 2016, 62% of Scots voted for "Stay in the EU".

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has since voted for a second referendum on Scottish independence, before retracting in October 2018. A bracketed Which reflects the hesitation of the Scottish Executive. The trend is rather at the request of a particular status.

On Ireland, an intangible European position

The Irish border remains the biggest blocking issue in the negotiations between the UK and the EU. If the Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, Northern Ireland is a British territory. Agree not to restore a physical border between the two territories, which would call into question the peace agreement (called "Good Friday") of 1998 providing for the free movement between the two territories, London and Brussels are not in on the other hand still unable to agree on the guarantee of this principle of territorial belonging.

The latest draft agreement provides for a UK exit from the European single market, at its request, after the transitional period, after 31 December 2020. During this transition period, the United Kingdom would remain in a customs union with the EU, until both parties have finalized a free trade agreement that is considered satisfactory. This scenario would avoid the introduction of customs controls between the UK and the EU – and particularly between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A reunification of the two countries, therefore an exit from Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom remains very unlikely as the odds are low that the North Irish population is voting.

Will the UK ever be able to return to Europe?

► Any country that has left the European Union can reapply for membership. It will have to follow, again, all the procedure of adhesion like any other country.

UK unveils budget at risk before Brexit

How much will the Brexit cost in the UK?

► If it is difficult to predict the costs of Brexit for UK citizens, business and finance, one thing is almost certain: the UK should pay its planned commitments under the current multi-year budget (2014). -2020). If the text does not give a figure, the British government estimates this amount between 35 and 39 billion pounds, or between 38 and 44 billion euros. A figure acceptable to public opinion, but most observers agree that it will probably be more.

For the rest, nothing is less certain. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that Brexit will have a " cost With or without agreement. The IMF has already estimated that the growth of the United Kingdom would be 1.5% in 2018. A figure that would be higher by 0.25 points if the British had remained in the single market.

Ludovic Séré

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