Whichever side of the Brexit debate you have been on, Friday 31 January 2020 undoubtedly marks a momentous point in the country’s history. For at the stroke of 11pm, the UK will cease to be a member of the EU: the divorce will finally have been sealed.
It’s clearly been a long and rocky road getting to this stage with the process costing two Prime Ministers their jobs and dividing families the length and breadth of the country. However, since Boris Johnson won a landslide victory in December’s election with a mandate to ‘get Brexit done’, the UK has been heading inexorably towards the EU exit door.
The final hurdle in the 1,317-day Brexit saga was safely cleared when the European Parliament rubber-stamped the Withdrawal Agreement at a historic session on 29 January. And the UK is now set to bring the final curtain down on 47 years of EU membership and set out to forge new relationships with the rest of the world.
Although Big Ben’s chime will not mark the departure moment, Brexiteers have arranged a series of celebratory events with a giant clock face projected on to Downing Street counting down the final hour. In addition, commemorative 50p coins inscribed with the words ‘peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ will enter circulation.
In many ways, however, while the day certainly has huge political symbolism, life for most people will pretty much carry on as normal as the country embarks on an 11-month transition period. Indeed, the principal changes relate more to legal or institutional issues, for instance, the article 50 process will officially be over and non-reversible.
So, while UK citizens will no longer be EU citizens, the country will remain in the EU single market and customs union. As a result, British passport holders will still be able to travel and work in the EU, and the UK will continue to follow EU rules, which means the financial services regime will continue as before.
More significant changes are likely to occur on 1 January 2021, the UK’s first scheduled day outside of EU rules. And what happens then will very much depend upon the type of deal the UK manages to negotiate with the EU.
If you have any concerns relating to Brexit either now or in the coming months, then please do get in touch. Remember, we’re always here to help.