How Will Brexit Happen Research Paper

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The people of the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016. Article 50 was submitted in March 2017, and discussions since then have focused mainly on how England would trade with the EU once it was formally no longer a member of the EU. Much of the hand-wringing done since then has been over how Britain would manage the separation: would there be a “soft deal,” a “hard deal,” no deal, a delayed deal? The questions continue to be asked, so it is important to understand what is at stake in each case. This paper will examine the ramifications of the various possible outcomes of what has come to be known as Brexit.


Understanding what is at stake first requires an understanding of where the UK currently sits with regard to trade arrangements. Currently, the UK’s trade relationship with the EU is not supportive of protectionist trade policy. The recent “crisis of legitimization,” however, has led to an increased desire among leaders throughout the world for more protectionist trade stances.[footnoteRef:2] By being part of the EU, England has been able to have direct access to one-third of the world’s largest and most valuable markets and has enjoyed “preferential market access to over 50 countries outside the EU—from South Africa to Colombia to South Korea.”[footnoteRef:3] England’s trade arrangement is often compared to Switzerland’s, but in the EU its trade access is substantially more than that of Switzerland or that of Canada. As a member of the EU, the UK enjoys the benefit of the EU negotiating tariffs for states that are members of the Union. Compared to Australia, which must negotiate tariffs with a country like South Korea on its own, the EU states benefit from the EU’s ability to negotiate on behalf of them all in a much faster manner. For that reason, England’s trade with South Korea has, for example, grown by 60% with 6.3 billion pounds worth of exports following the trade deal that the EU negotiated on England’s (and other EU countries’) behalf. The same approach has been taken with Canada, and, in short, if the UK were to remain in the EU, all but 10% of its trade would be settled by the EU.[footnoteRef:4] [2: P. Bobbit, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (NY: Anchor Books, 2011), 213.] [3: CBI, “10 facts about EU trade deals” CBI, 2016.] [4: CBI, “10 facts about EU trade deals” CBI, 2016.]

Soft Deal

The benefits of a soft deal are that it would permit the UK to remain close to the EU and maintain access to the markets. This would allow England to maintain supply chains and offset the risk of any potential harm to trade. The problem is that when the UK voted to leave the EU it did so with the intention being to be free from EU stipulations, including the stipulation that England have essentially open borders for migrants traveling throughout the EU. In order for a soft Brexit to happen, the UK would have to abide by the EU’s rules on giving access to people moving from one EU state to the next. The UK would have to basically renege on its Brexit referendum—which is why a soft deal is viewed by pro-Brexiters as a total capitulation to EU pressure to remain inside the EU: in essence it would be.

Hard Brexit Ramifications

A hard Brexit would mean a total clean break from the EU: England would no longer have access to the EU’s single market, where it could trade without problems, tariffs or restrictions.
There would likely be some kind of trade arrangement with a temporary or transitional grace period put into place to allow…

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…the sovereignty that the British voters voted to retake from the EU with Brexit. Jumping into the EEA would be like going from the pot into the fire.

The EEA extends the EU market to the member states of the EFTA (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland). By extending the market, there are common rules that the states agree to abide by. The free movement of people is one of the rules, which makes this an unattractive solution for pro-Brexiteers. However, even if the UK were to manage to get the rules changed so that it can be part of the EEA without having to respect the rules of the EU, there would be problems. It would mean that Norway would be playing second fiddle to the much larger UK, which it is not going to want to do. The UK would be able to shape economic policy for the EEA and strengthen its own position at the expense of Norway et al. This would lead Norway to block such an arrangement.


In conclusion, the possible outcomes range from no immediate outcome (delayed deal) to no deal Brexit, which could drag Britain’s economy into recession and have a domino-like effect on the global marketplace, as in the globalized world all economies are linked. Whether the no deal Brexit would be as catastrophic for England as the doomsayers suggest remains to be seen; however, what is clear is that England has a mandate from its voters to leave the EU and its laws behind. The problem of business and trade is what remains to be settled, and the EU is not willing to be a good partner with the UK so long as the UK refuses to be a good subject of Brussels. The EU still wants the UK to recognize and abide by its free movement of persons laws, and the UK has….....

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Bobbit, P. The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History, NY: Anchor Books, 2011.

CBI. “10 facts about EU trade deals.” CBI, 2016.

Martin, Will. “UK economy could slump,” Business Insider, 2018.

Murphy, Mary C. \"The backstop is dividing Northern Ireland. We urgently need new talks.\" LSE Brexit (2018).

Pooi, Ah-Hin, Huei-Ching Soo, and Wei-Yeing Pan. \"Prediction of the start of next recession using latent factors.\" In AIP Conference Proceedings, vol. 1782, no. 1, p. 050013. AIP Publishing, 2016.

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