So, it’s finally been decided, on Friday Britain will put an end to its 47-year membership with the EU. We’ve been talking about this day for three and a half years, so what actually happens now?
Since the Brexit Bill was passed earlier this month, Boris Johnson has set a transition period of 11 months; over which duration Britain will effectively remain part of the EU. While British citizens will no longer be EU citizens, implementations such as freedom of movement across European borders and using EU border control gates will be sustained until December.
February 1st begins the countdown to the UK leaving Europe for good. From this date, the UK will not be able to contribute to the European Parliament and all British MEPs will be removed. However, the UK will still adhere to EU laws and pay part of the EU budget. This stage has been referred to as the twilight period by the Financial Times. The transition period’s function is to provide time for Britain and the EU to negotiate a trade deal so that Britain can leave Europe smoothly.
The rights of British migrants residing in any EU country are guaranteed to be protected as long as they follow the procedures that the country requires, but will not as easily be able to move to another European country.
On the other hand, the UK has arranged the Settled Status Scheme, which guarantees EU migrants to remain in the UK if they have resided here for five years or more, given that they register to this scheme. European migrants who have lived in the UK for less than five years are able to request pre-settled status, but at the end of this transition period migrants will have to apply for working visas in the UK.
However, the Migration Advisory Committee have advised that the salary threshold for immigrants, including non-EU, should be cut from £30,000 to £25,600, which will vary across professions. According to the chairman of the MAC, this will cause a vast reduction in net migration and thus a decrease in the rate of population growth in the UK.
Withdrawal from the EU has provoked questions of whether other countries will be inspired to leave, with Marine Le Pen describing Brexit as ‘the beginning of the end’ for the EU. Undoubtedly, Britain and Europe’s relationship will be changed completely and irreversibly following January 31st but not a lot is going to be enforced until the end of December.