What happens next in the Brexit saga?

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The UK will formally exit the EU when the clock strikes 11pm on Friday – or not, in the case of Big Ben.

But this is by no means the end of the Brexit saga.

– What will we notice at that historic moment?

Very little. While the UK will no longer be a member of the bloc, the terms of the departure deal mean there are no cliff-edge changes for businesses and citizens.

The negotiated transition period keeps the nation complying with EU rules until the end of 2020 – while having no say on how they are crafted – and life will continue largely unchanged.

As Boris Johnson put it, Friday is “not an end but a beginning”. The Prime Minister’s negotiating team will try to thrash out a future relationship with the EU on issues such as trade and security.

Talks will also get under way with other nations, such as the US, where the PM is eyeing an ambitious deal with Donald Trump’s administration.

– Is there enough time on the clock?

The countdown is on to what is effectively another no-deal scenario if London and Brussels cannot agree to a new relationship.

Senior EU figures have suggested it would be impossible to strike the kind of trade deal Mr Johnson wants where the UK can diverge significantly from the bloc’s rules in such a short period.

But he has insisted it is “epically likely” that a deal can be struck in time.

UK’s exit from the EU
(PA Graphics)

The transition period can be extended by up to two years but the PM insists this will not happen and has even installed a measure into legislation to ban ministers from agreeing an extension.

– When will talks start?

Downing Street says it is ready to pull up a seat at the negotiating table on February 1 but it appears there would be no-one to sit with just yet.

The EU may not be ready until March because all 27 remaining members have to sign up to a joint position, hungrily eating into the already tight timetable.

– What is at the end of the road?

Right now that is unclear. The Government hopes new trade deals will boost the nation, which will have the ability to control migration numbers from Europe.

British citizens’ ability to work and travel across the EU, as well as healthcare access, from 2021 will all be decided in the negotiations – with the same being true for EU citizens in the UK.

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