“Alas, poor Yorick!”
Nothing lasts forever, except Brexit felt like so: the UK has had two general elections, three Prime Ministers, and multiple extensions since the June 2016 Referendum. But it has been done – the UK has officially stopped being a member nation of the EU on 31 January, marking the end of a five-decade economic and political relationship. Major UK newspapers had mixed reactions to the historic occasion: the front cover of The Daily Mail proclaims “A NEW DAWN FOR BRITAIN”; the headline of the Financial Times muses “Britain bows out of the EU with a mixture of optimism and regret”; The Guardian’s was a simple “Small island”.
The UK will now embark on an 11-month “transition period”, where it will begin negotiations on future relations with the EU. Whatever trade deals that are on the table will likely be implemented after the transition period. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to secure a free-market trade deal, with protection measures aimed against global competition.
An uncertain future ahead
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP) is already planning to request from the Electoral Commission for a second referendum for Scottish Independence. Universities across the UK and the EU have been persuading Boris Johnson and his government to support continued research collaborations in the continent. French President Emmanuel Macron has called Brexit an “alarm signal”, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyer saying “It is clear Europe will defend its interests in a determined manner,” hinting that the EU will be taking a tough stance in the upcoming trade deal talks.
On the ground, there has been a surge in police evictions on the Calais refugee camp along the France-UK border. The word “Thick” trends No.1 on UK Twitter as individuals and communities argue over the ongoing celebrations. The UK has multiple hurdles to overcome aside from the trade deal, including potential complications for the F&B industry, crafting a new foreign policy, and redrafting security policies.
Perhaps, the biggest challenge of them all lies in unifying an already polarized nation.