On March 29, 2017 the United Kingdom invoked Article 50 of the European Union treaty allowing member nations to withdraw from the largest single market in the world. The UK and the EU have spent the last two years unraveling four decades of close political and economic co-operation while trying to negotiate a free trade deal.
The decision to withdraw from the EU was the result of a very narrowly won referendum (51.9%) in June of 2016. Support for leaving the EU mainly hinged on a desire for autonomy with regard to immigration and a rejection the authority of the European Court of Justice.
Where is Brexit now?
Claire Hansen of U.S. News and World Report says the U.K. has these options.
- Leaving without a deal.
- Revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit.
- Holding a second public referendum on Brexit – on either the departure of Britain from the EU or the way in which it should do so.
- A “softer Brexit” plan backed by the Labour Party that calls for “close alignment” with the EU single market and continued participation in the EU’s educational, scientific and cultural programs.
- A renegotiated customs union with the EU that would likely make trade between the EU and the U.K. tariff-free.
- A plan known as Common Market 2.0, which would keep the U.K. in the EU’s economic partnership. It also includes a “comprehensive customs arrangement” and would maintain freedom of movement for people, according to the BBC.
- A plan similar to Common Market 2.0, but one that rejects a customs union and eliminates the “Irish backstop.”