What’s the deal with Brexit?

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Published 2019-09-02 12:42

Parliament has been suspended by Boris Johnson and whether Brexit is a deal or no deal remains to be seen. Keep an eye on the news to find out more about recent developments and what they could mean for the future of UK and EU relations. 

The UK has always been a prime destination for expats. London is a metropolis with lots of job opportunities and high wages, the countryside offers quaint cottages and tranquillity, and television stars like Monty Don and Jamie Oliver steal our hearts – what’s not to love!

However, net immigration to Britain is actually on a steep decline due largely in part to the unfolding events surrounding Brexit. You’ve probably heard of Brexit by now and if you like keeping up to speed with the latest news, you know there’s something about a deal or no deal situation. But what exactly is going on?  

What is Brexit?

In 2016, the citizens of the United Kingdom voted yes to leaving the European Union (EU). Problems arising from the Brexit deal have their origin in the fact that legislation details the process of how the UK should leave the EU but doesn’t seem to cover what should happen after they have left. 

The withdrawal agreement

One of the biggest issues that parliament needs to figure out in cooperation with the EU – and the one that will affect expats the most – is what should happen to immigrants to and from the UK and Europe once Britain has successfully left the European Union. 

The backstop

A second major point of contention is the border of Ireland and the ‘backstop’ deal. If the border is reinstated to separate from the UK through the Brexit deal, Northern Ireland would still fall under EU rules for imports and exports which would make it difficult to have free trade between Ireland and England. 

No-deal Brexit

To date, there have been three vetoes against the proposed withdrawal agreement. The failure to set a date for departure is now referred to as the ‘no-deal Brexit.’ Acting Prime Minister Theresa May stepped down from her role due to the no-deal and has since been replaced by Boris Johnson. 

The EU does not want to renegotiate the current withdrawal agreement and backstop plan. If Boris Johnson fails to sort things out, the UK will be removed from the EU without a deal – thus, a no-deal Brexit. 

The result of a no-deal Brexit

For expats, the largest concern to this whole story is how they will be affected by a no-deal Brexit. Essentially, a no-deal Brexit would mean that EU laws will stop applying immediately on the date of Britain’s departure from the European Union. Immediate effects include rising food prices, escalated mobile phone roaming charges, and delays at major transportation hubs. 

In practical terms, visa rules and requirements may change overnight. Border controls, passport requirements, and rules surrounding travel durations and destinations are likely to be impacted. Here are some things that expats can expect after a no-deal Brexit:

  • Stricter border controls. UK citizens may be asked to provide proof of onwards or return tickets, as well as proof of enough finances to cover their stay in the EU. 

  • Changes to European health cover – the European Health Insurance Card or EHIC will no longer be valid for UK citizens travelling in other European countries. 

  • New visa rules – check on the website of each country’s travel advice page or embassy website to find the latest information.

  • EU citizens living in the UK will have to apply for ‘settled status’. There is a tool on the British Government website to help EU citizens living in the UK navigate the process. 

  • The Erasmus student exchange program currently in place between Britain and several EU countries will be affected. Students partaking in the exchange should contact their country’s program organiser for the latest information. 

As an expat, remember to keep in touch with embassies and find out as much as you can about updated visa rules and regulations before entering or exiting the UK from the EU and vice versa.