- 1. the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union: "the report warned that Brexit would reduce the EU's potential GDP"
Brexit, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), which formally occurred on January 31, 2020. The term Brexit is a portmanteau coined as shorthand for British exit. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, some 52 percent of those British voters who participated opted to leave the EU, setting the stage for the U.K. to become the first country ever to do so.
Brexit noun [ S or U ] uk / ˈbrek.sɪt / us / ˈbrek.sɪt / an exit (= act of leaving) by the United Kingdom from the European Union ( short for "British exit "): There have been various attempts to calculate how much Brexit will cost. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases UK politics: government administration & organization awkward backbench
Brexit noun [ S or U ] us / ˈbrek.sɪt / uk / ˈbrek.sɪt / an exit (= act of leaving) by the United Kingdom from the European Union ( short for "British exit "): There have been various attempts to calculate how much Brexit will cost. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases U.K. politics: government administration & organization awkward backbench
- What Is Brexit?
- The Referendum
- The Article 50 Negotiating Period
- Brexit Negotiations
- Arguments for and Against Brexit
- Brexit Economic Response
- June 2017 General Election
- Scotland's Independence Referendum
- Upsides for Some
- UK-EU Trade After Brexit
Brexit is a portmanteau of the words British and exit that was coined to refer to the U.K.'s decision in a June 23, 2016, referendum to leave the European Union (EU). Brexit took place at 11 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, Jan. 31, 2020. 1
On Dec. 24, 2020, the U.K. and the EU struck a provisional free-trade agreement ensuring the free trade of goods without tariffs or quotas. However, key details of the future relationship remain uncertain, such as trade in services, which make up 80% of the U.K. economy. This prevented a no-deal Brexit, which would have been significantly damaging to the U.K. economy .
The Leave side won the June 2016 referendum with 51.9% of the ballot, or 17.4 million votes while Remain received 48.1% or 16.1 million votes. Voter turnout was 72.2%. 4 The results were tallied on a U.K.-wide basis, but the overall figures conceal stark regional differences: 53.4% of English voters supported Brexit, compared to just 38% of Scottish voters.
Because England accounts for the vast majority of the U.K.'s population, support there swayed the result in Brexit's favor. If the vote was conducted only in Wales (where Leave voters also won), Scotland, and Northern Ireland, Brexit would have received less than 45% of the vote. 6
The process of leaving the EU formally began on March 29, 2017, when May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The U.K. initially had two years from that date to negotiate a new relationship with the EU. 8 Following a snap election on June 8, 2017, May remained the country's leader. However, the Conservatives lost their outright majority in Parliament and agreed on a deal with the Euroskeptic Democratic Unionist Party. This later caused May some difficulty getting her Withdrawal Agreement passed in Parliament.
Talks began on June 19, 2017. 9 Questions swirled around the process, partly because Britain's constitution is unwritten and because no country has left the EU using Article 50 before. A similar move, though, happened when Algeria left the EU's predecessor after gaining independence from France in 1962, and Greenland, which was a self-governing territory, left Denmark through a special treaty in 1985.
Britain's lead negotiator in the talks with Brussels was David Davis. He was a Yorkshire MP until July 9, 2018, when he resigned. He was replaced by housing minister Dominic Raab as Brexit secretary. Raab resigned in protest over May's deal on Nov. 15, 2018. He was replaced by health and social care minister Stephen Barclay the following day.
The EU's chief negotiator was Michel Barnier, a French politician.
Preparatory talks exposed divisions in the two sides' approaches to the process. The U.K. wanted to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal alongside the terms of its post-Brexit relationship with Europe, while Brussels wanted to make sufficient progress on divorce terms by Oct. 2017, only then moving on to a trade deal. In a concession that both pro- and anti-Brexit commentators took as a sign of weakness, U.K. negotiators accepted the EU's sequenced approach.
One of the most politically thorny issues facing Brexit negotiators was the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. and U.K. citizens living in the EU.
Leave voters based their support for Brexit on a variety of factors, including the European debt crisis , immigration, terrorism, and the perceived drag of Brussels' bureaucracy on the U.K. economy. Britain was wary of the European Union's projects, which Leavers felt threatened the U.K.'s sovereignty: the country never opted into the European Union's monetary union, meaning that it used the pound instead of the euro. It also remained outside the Schengen Area, meaning that it did not share open borders with a number of other European nations.
Opponents of Brexit also cited a number of rationales for their position:
The risk involved in pulling out of the EU's decision-making process, given that it was the largest destination for U.K. exports
The economic and societal benefits of the EU's four freedoms: The free movement of goods, services, capital, and people across borders
Though Britain officially left the EU, 2020 was a transition and implementation period. Trade and customs continued during that time, so there wasn't much on a day-to-day basis that seemed different to U.K. residents. Even so, the decision to leave the EU had an effect on Britain's economy.
The country's GDP growth slowed down to around 1.4% in 2018 from 1.9% in both 2017 and 2016 as business investment slumped. 37 The IMF predicted that the country's economy would grow at 1.3% in 2019 and 1.4% in 2020. 38 The Bank of England cut its growth forecast for 2019 to 1.2%, the lowest since the financial crisis. 39
The U.K. unemployment rate hit a 44-year low at 3.9% in the three months to January 2019. 40 Experts attribute this to employers preferring to retain workers instead of investing in new major projects.
In 2018, the pound clawed back the losses it suffered after the Brexit vote but reacted negatively as the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit increased. The currency could rally if a soft Brexit deal is passed or Brexit is delayed.
On April 18, May called for a snap election to be held on June 8, despite previous promises not to hold one until 2020. Polling at the time suggested May would expand on her slim Parliamentary majority of 330 seats (there are 650 seats in the Commons). Labor gained rapidly in the polls, however, aided by an embarrassing Tory flip-flop on a proposal for estates to fund end-of-life care.
The Conservatives lost their majority, winning 318 seats to Labor's 262. The Scottish National Party won 35, with other parties taking 35. The resulting hung Parliament cast doubts on May's mandate to negotiate Brexit and led the leaders of Labor and the Liberal Democrats to call on May to resign. 45
Politicians in Scotland pushed for a second independence referendum in the wake of the Brexit vote, but the results of the June 8, 2017 election cast a pall over their efforts. The Scottish National Party lost 21 seats in the Westminster Parliament, and on June 27, 2017, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government at Holyrood would "reset" its timetable on independence to focus on delivering a "soft Brexit." 50
Not one Scottish local area voted to leave the EU, according to the U.K.'s Electoral Commission, though Moray came close at 49.9%. The country as a whole rejected the referendum by 62.0% to 38.0%. 51 But because Scotland only contains 8.4% of the U.K.'s population, its vote to Remain (along with that of Northern Ireland, which accounts for just 2.9% of the U.K.'s population) was vastly outweighed by support for Brexit in England and Wales.
On the other hand, a weak currency that floats on global markets can be a boon to U.K. producers who export goods. Industries that rely heavily on exports could actually see some benefit.
In 2015, the top 10 exports from the U.K. were (in USD):
Machines, engines, pumps: US$63.9 billion (13.9% of total exports)
Gems, precious metals: $53 billion (11.5%)
Electronic equipment: $29 billion (6.3%)
Aircraft, spacecraft: $18.9 billion (4.1%)
May advocated a "hard" Brexit. By that, she meant that Britain should leave the EU's single market and customs union, then negotiate a trade deal to govern their future relationship. These negotiations would have been conducted during a transition period once a divorce deal was ratified.
The Conservatives' poor showing in the June 2017 snap election called popular support for a hard Brexit into question. Many in the press speculated that the government could take a softer line. The Brexit White Paper released in July 2018 revealed plans for a softer Brexit. It was too soft for many MPs belonging to her party and too audacious for the EU. 54
noun the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from membership in the European Union. the nonbinding national referendum in 2016 that resulted in a vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Question Origin of Brexit
Jul 22, 2019 · What Brexit Means Brexit supporters argue that the EU threatens sovereignty and stifles growth, while opponents counter that EU membership strengthens trade, investment, and the UK’s standing...