At last what was so much awaited, in Brexit episode, has come to fore—‘The Divorce Agreement’, and half the work is done as the deal gets its assent from the EU leaders in last Sunday’s summit in Brussels; now the ball is in Theresa May’s court, though very tough to play on,to sell the deal to lawmakers. The deal has two parts: “The Agreement” of about 580 pages which is legally binding and a 26 pages “Political Declaration” on the future relations of UK and EU.
The history shows that relations between EU and Britain were never that much of a lovely spouses- having discord on many issues such as Britain refusal of EU monetary system in 1979, and her reluctance to euro in 1985, to which she aceeded as late as 1993- since the marriage happened on 1st Jan 1973. That is what the critics called, regarding UK membership of EU—” one foot in, one foot out”, and the result of this crooked relations manifested itself when the Britons voted in 2016 referendum, to leave. The claims of pro-brexiteers were to have full control of thier borders, security and trade, but the question is, does the divorce agreement achieve these goals?
The results for which the Britons voted are not going to matetialize at once under the agreed agreement the UK will leave on 29 of March 2019, but the transition period is fixed in Dec 2020 and may be extended to 2022 if both the parties agreed to, before 1st July 2020: meaning that, though British on 29 March 2019 will leave EU and loose it’s voting right in decision making but has to abide by the rules and regulation of EU regarding trade as long as the transition period extends. Moreover, regarding Irish border the agreement call for “backstop” solution, by avoiding a hard border between Britain’s Northern Ireland and Europe’s Ireland, which mean the custom duty and tariffs would be as such as they were before ( custom and tariffs free) until preceded by a new permanent trade agreement which the parties aspire to reach at by the end of Dec 2020.
The so called claim of pro-brexitters, regarding getting rid of large sums of money to EU programmes, which in thier view had a bad impact on thier economy, is also not going to materialise soon, as under the agreement the Britain has to pay for the programmes of EU till 2020, which the Britian signed when it was a member, the amount of which,according to last estimates, is about 39 billion euros.
Last but not the least the agreement call for full citizen’s rights and halting free movement as the transition period end, but the major bone of contention i.e. Fisheries is still unresolved. Fisheries is a major chunk of economy and the EU has free access to British waters which bring fruits for both but the question, who would have the access to British waters and under what terms has been deferred under the agreement by saying that the issue would be resolved by a new agreement before 1st July 2020.
So what next? Brexit with Divorce Deal or no Deal? The latter option is not without drastic repercussions for both the UK and EU, the former debatable. If the lawmakers pass the deal which is fixed for voting on 12 Dec, it would mean achieving something as compared to nothing and will give respite to May’s govt, while if it’s rejected then Theresa May has already warned the House in her opening speech on Monday that it would lead to more confusion and divisions of the british people and will push us back to square one. Moreover, the prospects of negotiating another deal is not that much promising as the EU commissioner Jean Claude Junker has already set the tone by commenting after Sunday’s summet, “This is the best deal possible for Britian. This is the best deal possible for Europe. This is the deal only possible.” Thus sanity and rationality should prevail, as give and take and compromise is a norm of negotiation and anti-deal supporters would have to take divorce deal or any future deal with a pinch of salt. Moreover I believe that the EU champions on thier behalf would not be ready to give what UK wants for and make an easy, and win win exit for Britian as by doing so they want to nip in the bud any surreptitious aspirations of any other member to leave the Union.
Besides this, what Brexit mean to the rest of the world? The tentacles of Brexit is not only footed in UK and Britian rather I believe it’s just a tiny manifestation of much larger shift. Does Brexit episode embolden rest of the world to alighn its policies on political rhetoric and populist claims—of which the victory of Trump and emergence of AfD in Germany, and coming into power of far right leader in Brazil are but few cades in point? To what extent it will deepen Europe Identity Crisis? Is it a foundation stone for a new world order and disintegration of liberal world order? Time would be the best judge to answer these questions , for now wait and see how the story unfolds itself.