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Brexit negotiations - Statistics & Facts

On March 29, 2017 the British Prime-Minister Theresa May formally triggered Article 50 and began the two-year process for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. While there has been some progress in the negotiations, and a potential transitional period has been agreed upon, several problems remain unresolved. The issue of the UK’s border with the Republic of Ireland, and the UK’s future customs arrangement with the EU are both significant hurdles. As of September 2018, the prospect of a deal being reached in time seems uncertain. The issue of Europe, once relatively unimportant to the British, is now seen by 45 percent of adults as the most important issue facing the country.

Within Britain the political cost for those in power has been high. Theresa May’s net satisfaction score has declined significantly, especially after her decision to call a snap general election in June 2017. While May was initially able to maintain party unity, two prominent Eurosceptic cabinet ministers, David Davis and Boris Johnson resigned within days of each other in July 2018. Both were unhappy with May’s proposals at Chequers and called for a tougher stance with Brussels. Johnson made it known he thought Donald Trump would make a success of Brexit, something 51 percent of leave voters agreed with him on. The hardline wing of the Conservative Party led by Jacob Rees-Mogg immediately rejected the proposals, while a survey of British adults at the time put support for a no-deal Brexit at 28 percent. The reception to the proposals from Brussels has also been lukewarm, leaving the way forward unclear and with little time to maneuver.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the future, the number of UK citizens becoming citizens of other EU countries has risen dramatically. Calls for a second referendum have also increased, with 42 percent of people favoring one in July 2018. With so much left undecided, the last months of 2018 will be crucial in deciding what the UK’s relationship with the European Union will look like.

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