If you’re like me, you may be wondering why there’s been no news this week—at least in the U.S.—about Britain’s impending divorce from the European Union (EU). Weren’t we told that January 31, 2020 was the magic date? And, if so, shouldn’t there be lots of news about all the British angst right about now?
Being a Spirited Reasoner, I did some research, starting with the BBC, of course. There’s a great article here: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46393399
What I gather from that article is that January 31st is one of many milestones along the Brexit continuum. In other words, nothing cataclysmic is set to happen on that day. Instead, Britain will enter a one-year transition period, during which EU trade advantages will remain in place, but Britain will have lost its representation in the EU parliament. (Not that the Brexit proponents care.)
During the transition year, the parties are supposed to negotiate trade arrangements between Britain and the EU. Or, they can opt to extend the transition period beyond the December 2020 cutoff date. Or they can do nothing. Lots of room for back and forth.
What all this means is that the ultimate effects of Brexit may not be fully realized for years. And the most serious impacts might not even be trade related.
Voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to remain in the EU. There’s a great map illustrating those demographics on Wikipedia. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brexit#2020
If the economic consequences of Brexit wind up being negative in those two regions, we can expect renewed pressures for Scottish independence and a unified Ireland (with Northern Ireland leaving the UK to join its neighbor to the south). The political argument would be straightforward: “We had it better when we were in the EU. We can enjoy those trade deals again if we leave the UK and rejoin the EU.”
Lots to observe over the coming years.
But for now, don’t expect the sky to fall, or even change colors, on January 31st.