每日英語跟讀 Ep.786: 英國脫歐 拖棚歹戲暫落幕
每日英語跟讀 Ep.786: Brexit ‘done’ at last: Now for the hard part
The United Kingdom left the EU on Friday, its most significant change of course since the loss of its empire — and a major blow to 70 years of efforts to forge European unity from the ruins of two world wars.
After the numerous twists and turns of a three-and-a-half-year crisis, the final parting is an anticlimax of sorts: Britain steps into the twilight zone of a transition period that preserves membership in all but name until the end of this year.
At a stroke, the EU will lose 15 percent of its economy, its biggest military spender and the world’s international financial capital — London.
“This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one of the leaders of the “Leave” campaign in the 2016 referendum. “It is a moment of real national renewal and change.”
The EU cautioned that leaving meant losing the benefits of membership, though the US said Britons wanted to escape the “tyranny of Brussels.” While Britons either side of the Brexit (a portmanteau of “British” and “exit”) divide expressed either sadness or delight.
For proponents, Brexit is “independence day” — an escape from what they cast as a doomed German-dominated project that is failing its 500 million people.
Opponents believe Brexit is a folly that will weaken the West, shrivel what is left of Britain’s global clout, undermine its economy and ultimately lead to a more inward-looking and less cosmopolitan set of islands in the northern Atlantic.
Brexit was always about much more than Europe. The referendum, which split voters 52 percent to 48 percent, showed up deep divisions and triggered soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to empire and modern Britishness.
SMALL TIMEFRAME AHEAD
Feb. 1 marks the beginning of a new phase of negotiations between London and Brussels to agree on the shape of their future relationship.
They have until the end of 2020 — a transition period during which Britain will remain an EU member in all but name — to hammer out an agreement on trade and other issues including security, energy, transport links, fishing rights and data flow.
Johnson claims 11 months is time enough to strike a “zero tariff, zero quota” trade deal and has vowed — even though the option is there — not to extend the limbo period beyond 2020.
If they fail, the legal default will be a potentially crippling no-deal Brexit that would leave trade between Britain and the EU from 2021 onwards based on WTO terms, and see the imposition of import duties and controls.