The UK’s torturous departure from the European Union is taking full effect.
Brexit becomes a reality on Thursday as Britain leaves the European customs union and single market, ending nearly half a century of often turbulent ties with its nearest neighbors.
The UK’s torturous departure from the European Union takes full effect when the Big Ben hits 11 p.m. in central London, just as most mainland European countries mark the start of 2021 at midnight December 31.
Brexit has dominated British politics since the country voted Restricted to leave the bloc in June 2016, opening up deep political and social wounds that remain raw. But both sides are now keen to move on to a new future.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Brexit “a new start in our country’s history and new relations with the EU as their greatest ally”.
The British pound hit a 2.5 year high against the US dollar ahead of the long-awaited departure from the single market. On the legal front, Britain left the EU on January 31, but it went through a period of transition amid heated discussions to secure a free trade deal with Brussels, which was finally reached the day before. Christmas.
Once the transition is complete, EU rules will no longer apply, with the immediate consequence of ending the free movement of more than 500 million people between Britain and the 27 EU states.
Customs border controls will be back for the first time in decades, and despite the free trade agreement, queues and disruptions due to additional red tape are expected.
Britain – a financial and diplomatic big hitter plus a NATO big power – is the first member state to leave the EU, which was created to forge unity after the horrors of World War II.
The EU has lost 66 million people and a $ 2.85 trillion economy, but Brexit, with its call for nationalist populism, has also raised fears that other disgruntled members will follow suit.
“It has been a long road. Now is the time to put Brexit behind us. Our future is made in Europe, ”Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, signing the trade pact.
In the short term, all eyes will be closer to home and focused on how life outside the EU unfolds in practical terms. British fishermen are unhappy with a compromise to allow continued access for EU boats to UK waters.
The key financial services sector also faces an anxious wait on what basis it can continue to deal with Europe, after being largely left out of the Brexit trade deal.
Northern Ireland’s border with Ireland, an EU member state, will be closely monitored to ensure movement is not restricted – a key part of a 1998 peace deal that ended to 30 years of violence against British rule.