Brexit A to Z

Brexit is going to be the biggest issue facing our country over the next few years. There are lots of terms and phrases thrown around about the different options available. If you are feeling lost, here are a few definitions to help:


A: Article 50

Known as the "exit clause", Article 50 sets out the process the UK will go through to leave the European Union.

It sets the clock ticking on negotiations, giving a deadline of two years before the UK's membership of the EU ends - unless all EU member states' leaders vote unanimously to extend that period.


E: European Economic Area

The European Economic Area agreement of 1994 gives three countries, Norway, Iceland and Lichetenstein, access to the single market without them having to be a member of the EU.

In return, these countries implement EU laws covering goods, services and capital, and allow the free movement of people.


F: Freedom of movement

Free movement of labour is one of the four fundamental principles of the EU. It means that workers are entitled to look for work in another country, without requiring any visa.


F: Free trade

Trading with other countries without customs duties, import bans or quotas.

EU membership means the UK isn't allowed to make its own deals with other countries. Instead the EU negotiates deals on behalf of all member states, such as the Ceta free trade agreement signed between Canada and the EU after seven years of negotiations.


H: Hard Brexit

The style of Brexit favoured by campaigners like Nigel Farage, "hard Brexit" would mean the UK leaving the European single market.

It would allow the British government more direct control over policies on immigration, but may mean tariffs on exports to the EU.

Goods made here in Britain and sold in Europe would cost more because of these tariffs so we could lose business.


S: Single Market

The single market, originally called the common market, means that countries inside the EU allow the free movement of goods, people, services and capital between one another. There are no trade barriers like tariffs in imports and trading rules are harmonised across the EU, rather than being set by each state.

Being part of the single market gives UK businesses access to 500 million consumers across the EU.


S: Soft Brexit

The UK could give up its membership of the European Union, but still have access to the single market.

This would make trading with other European countries easier, as there would be less change after Brexit.

The price would most likely be some kind of free movement agreement - meaning that EU citizens could still move to the UK to live and work, even after Brexit.


W: World Trade Organisation

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.

If we leave the EU without a trade deal we would be subject to WTO trade rules. The UK could still trade with Europe but would have to pay tariffs, making our exported goods more expensive.