After two years, where do things stand now?

Learn the latest developments concerning the United Kingdom’s efforts to leave the European Union.


Global macro matters

Lara DeLaIglesia

Lara de la Iglesia: Hi, Peter, thanks for being here today.

As we approach the second anniversary of Brexit, uncertainty certainly abounds. Can you please provide a brief background on what happened with the historic vote in June of 2016, and where things stand now?

Peter Westaway: Sure, Lara. I think it’s fair to say that Britain’s had a slightly strained relationship with Europe ever since it joined the EU in the early 1970s. And, politically, there have always been people in the U.K. that would have preferred us not to have been in the European Union. And those pressures and debates came to a head about three years ago, when a small party in the U.K., called the United Kingdom Independence Party, was gaining votes from some of the main parties, and put enough pressure on the establishment to call a referendum on the question of EU membership.

Peter Westaway
Peter Westaway

Nobody thought that that referendum would lead to a decision to actually leave the EU, but in the event, the vote in June 2016 delivered a 52% to 48% [decision] in favor of the U.K. leaving the European Union.

Now back in March of 2017, so some nine months after that vote, Prime Minister Theresa May triggered what was called Article 50, which set in process a motion which meant that by two years later, March 2019, the U.K. would officially leave the E.U.

What then remained to be done was agree on the terms of that separation. And that’s the process that we’re going through at the moment. Because the real problem with the referendum was, even though there was a clear yes/no decision on whether the U.K. should leave the EU, the terms on which we would leave it and what life outside the EU would look like relative to the EU, was very unclear. And that’s what all the debate is about now.

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