What’s Going on With Brexit?

By Alexandra Calhoun, Associate Editor

In 2016, 51.9% of voters voted in favor of leaving the E.U. How that exit would take place would become a political firestorm. Former Prime Minister Theresa May lost her position because she couldn’t finish what she’d begun- Brexit. Boris Johnson then took her spot with the promise that he’d get a Brexit withdrawal agreement through Parliament. Boris Johnson once stated that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask Brussels for an extension past October 31, 2019 and that the U.K. would leave on October 31st “deal or no deal”

But “deal or no deal” was not the acceptable pathway for many in Parliament. The Benn Act was passed as a consequence of growing concerns over a “no-deal Brexit”.  The Benn Act required Boris Johnson to request a delay from the European Union if Parliament had not approved either a withdrawal agreement or a no-deal Brexit by October 19th. October 19th came and went with no agreement and Boris Johnson is faced with a Parliament more divided than ever. “Deal or no deal” was no longer an option.

As his initial deadline of October 31, 2019, began to loom, with no withdrawal agreement passed through Parliament, Johnson reluctantly requested an extension from the European Union.  The European Union granted a “flextension” deadline of January 31st, with the acknowledgment that the EU could leave earlier than that date.

Now the obvious questions must be asked, three years after the initial referendum on Brexit. Will Brexit ever happen? What is the pathway forward?

The European Union, though annoyed with Britain, will likely continue to grant extensions. The Latvian Foreign Minister Edgards Rinkevics summed up the feeling within the EU succinctly- “It is in everyone’s interest that the Brexit is arranged in an orderly manner.” Johnson urged, in his request for an extension, that the EU make clear that no further delays would be accepted.

However, it is unlikely this will happen. The EU will most likely maintain its primary focus- avoiding the U.K. “crashing out” of the EU which would be politically and economically damaging to both the EU and the U.K. The constant delays are an irritation to the EU but still less risky and costly than allowing a no-deal Brexit. It appears, that as long as the U.K. requests extensions to continue working out an agreement within Parliament, the EU will continue to grant extensions.

Now, the U.K. is faced with a winter season of political campaigning and “Brexhaustion”. Boris Johnson won Parliament’s support for an early election. Dec 12th will offer a ballot dominated by Brexit and designed to address the question- What is going on with Brexit?  It is anticipated that the Conservative Party, under Johnson, will run under “Get Brexit Done.” The Brexit Party, lead by Nigel Farage, will campaign with the idea of crashing out of the EU. And there is the Labour Partyn, under Jeremy Corbyn, whose position appears to be: let’s win the election and then see what the fate of Brexit will be.

And so the answer to the question- “What is going on with Brexit”- will remain unanswered. At least for now.


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William Booth & Karla Adam Parliament votes to withhold approval of Brexit deal, postponing Boris Johnson’s moment of reckoningTHE WASHINGTON POST (Oct. 19, 2019) available at visited Oct. 30, 2019).

Madeleine Kearns, Brexit some other time, NATIONAL REVIEW (Oct. 28, 2019) available at visited Oct. 30, 2019).

Karla Adam & William Booth, Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate, THE WASHINGTON POST(Oct. 29, 2019) available at visited Oct. 30, 2019).

Katya Adler, Brexit: is this the latest extension the final delay? BBC NEWS (Oct. 28, 2019) available at

William James, Kylie MacLellan & Elizabeth Piper, EU agrees Brexit delay as British parliament blocks December electionREUTERS(Oct. 28, 2019) available at visited Oct 30, 2019).

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