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A Simple Guide to Brexit Vocabulary

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Whatever country you are in you have probably heard about Britain leaving the EU. It is a very complex situation and people learning English with a view to working or studying in the UK or with people from the UK may find it useful to understand a bit more about it. Some people are very passionate about this subject and can get angry about different sides of the argument. It is really important to be careful about discussing this topic with people from the UK at work or other places. However, understanding some of the key terms used can be very useful!

Here is a short list of the main vocabulary and terms used when talking about Brexit. Understanding and being able to use these terms will make understanding Brexit a lot easier.

Article 50

When the UK joined the EU it agreed to all the rules and Article 50 is part of the agreement that allows any country to leave the EU. An article is simply part of an agreement like a chapter of a book.

No Deal

This simply means that the UK will leaving the European Union with no agreement relating to trade or anything else. This is an extreme situation and one that many people fear while others feel it would be OK.

WTO Rules

The WTO is the World Trade Organisation. This organisation sets trade fees that countries who do not have a trade agreement use. It is a base line way of doing business with any country when no discussions and agreements are made. Often WTO rules are more expensive than trade deals agreed between countries so buying and selling with countries under the WTO rules costs more.

Transition Period

Transition means change and this period of time after the UK leaves the EU was agreed to help both sides plan how their relationship would work. For the transition period to be started the UK would need to agree the plan Theresa May had negotiated with the EU. During this period the UK could not have any kind of say in any EU laws but would still have to abide by the existing rules.

Backstop

This is one a lot of people have heard of but most people do not understand. At the moment Ireland is split into two countries; Northern Ireland which is part of the UK and The Republic of Ireland which is a separate country. At the moment there is no border between the two countries so goods and people can move freely. Because the Republic of Ireland is in the EU and wants to stay there there is a lot of confusion about if there should be a border once the UK leaves the EU. The backstop is a an agreement between the UK and EU that there will be no Irish border during the transition period while a solution is found. It is a very contentious issue and one that it is best to avoid talking about.

Brexit is very complex but it will be an important part of UK history and whatever happens will affect living an working in the UK for millions of people for many years to come. Learning about it while learning English may be useful.