Brexit Done ”(which could be translated as“ we are going to consummate Brexit ”) was the political slogan used by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to convince the British population that he was going to get a divorce with the European Union that the voters chose in the 2016 referendum. Against all odds and in record time, both parties reached an agreement and just one year ago, on December 31, 2020, the British ceased to be part of the community club permanently.
Taking stock of these first 12 months after the separation, its consequences are mixed in some areas with the Covid-19 pandemic, so the impact is difficult to assess without the outbreak. Two historical events that coincided in 2021 and whose tail flicks will continue to be seen in the coming months and even years.
Different polls suggest that the number of regrets of their vote in the consultation in which they had to choose between ‘Remain’ (stay) or ‘Leave’ (abandon) are few, with nine out of ten who would vote the same as five and a half years ago. However, a high percentage, which according to the survey you look at varies between 40% and 60%, considers that Brexit has come out worse than expected.
Among the great promises of the Conservative party in favor of divorce were immigration control or the ability to give more money to the NHS (the national health system) by not having to give it, supposedly, to the EU. But none have been fulfilled.
Two years ago, the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, promised that the arrival of immigrants from France to the United Kingdom via the English Channel would become a “rare phenomenon”. The numbers deny it. According to official data, more than 25,000 people crossed the English Channel, three times more than in all of 2020. The divorce from the EU supposedly gave the Executive the possibility of controlling its borders without depending on what the government did. community group and take charge of their immigration policy, but the situation is not simple. This is impossible to do without close international collaboration, especially with France.
End of free movement
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that, for the first time in many years, the number of Europeans who left the UK has exceeded that of those who arrive. The ONS believes that this is due to the conjunction of the pandemic and Brexit, which eliminated the automatic right of comments to work and settle in British territory. This has led to labor shortages in all sectors, but especially in services.
A fuel crisis in October caused real chaos, especially in London and the south of the country. The fear of shortages caused by the shortage of truck drivers who transported fuel from refineries to service stations triggered panic purchases among the population, forcing gas stations to put a limit of 30 pounds per buyer, in the best of the cases, and, in the worst, to close. The lines to refuel were huge. Added to this were supply problems in supermarkets, with empty shelves, especially at night. The lack of truck drivers and workers – many were EU citizens who left during the worst part of the pandemic and were unable to return with the change in immigration rules after Brexit – is also affecting other products.
Northern Ireland received special status as a result of the “divorce” agreement. While England, Scotland and Wales no longer follow EU rules, Northern Ireland does so because it shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU. To avoid a physical border between the two countries and thus protect the peace process, it was agreed that customs checks would be carried out at ports on goods entering Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK, but that has provoked strong internal criticism and problems in the supply chain. The UK has suggested that it could suspend parts of the agreement by activating Article 16, which allows either party to suspend any part of the agreement that causes “economic, social or environmental hardship”, but this could lead to a real trade war. Resolving this dispute involves both parties resolving the squaring of the circle.
Full customs controls
The introduction on January 1 of full customs controls on products exported from the EU to the UK could lead to less availability of food products on British soil, warns Shane Brennan, executive director of the Federation of the Cold Chain. From the Food and Drink Federation they are concerned about the chaos that this could cause on the border, as it was experienced after the consummation of Brexit, with truck queues of several kilometers, at a time that is already critical at the level global for supply chains.
An analysis by the expert group of the Center for European Reform concluded that both imports and exports in the UK will, in the long term, be 15% lower than they would have been if the country had stayed in the EU.