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Brexit Jargon Explained

With Brexit due to reach a climax at the end of the month, media attention around Brexit is at an all time high. To help you unravel what on earth is going on, here is some of the Brexit jargon explained:


No Deal

  • A no-deal Brexit would mean leaving the EU and cutting all ties, with no agreement in place.
  • The UK would immediately follow World Trade Organisation rules to trade with the EU and other countries, whilst trying to negotiate free-trade deals .
  • However, the Benn act, referred to as the Surrender Bill by Boris Johnson, was passed earlier last month which demands that the Prime Minister requests a delay if a deal hasn’t been reached by 19th October. This follows shortly after the highly anticipated EU council summit on 17th and 18th October.



  • Currently there are no border posts, physical barriers or checks on people and goods on the island of Ireland
  • The backstop is a measure in the withdrawal agreement that would come into effect if the EU and the UK fail to agree a future relationship by the end of the transition period (31st October 2020)
  • Until a deal on the future relationship has been made, the backstop would effectively keep the UK inside the EU customs union, whilst Northern Ireland would also have to abide by some rules of the single market.
  • Critics argue that the backstop could become permanent and threaten the existence of the United Kingdom
  • Establishing an arrangement on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is made more complex by the need to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, which is at risk should a hard border develop.


Withdrawal Agreement

  • Theresa May agreed a deal with the EU on the terms of the United Kingdoms departure from the EU. This includes how much the UK must pay to the EU as a settlement, details of the transition and citizens rights
  • Three so-called ‘meaningful votes have been held on then Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement but MP’s rejected it on all three occasions



  • Boris Johnson took the decision to progue Parliament on 9th September
  • The process of proroguing Parliament is usually done before a general election or a Queens speech, at the start of new Parliamentary term, to allow time for a Government to prepare for the new transition
  • However Boris’s decision to progue Parliament for five weeks was seen by many as an attempt to limit debate
  • On 24th September the Supreme Court ruled that the decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful and Parliament resumed sitting the following day
  • Currently Parliament is progued to allow preparations for the Queens speech on 14th October


Operation Yellowhammer

  • This is the codename given to the Governments plans in case of a no-deal Brexit
  • After The Times leaked documents, MP’s voted for them to be made public
  • The ‘worst-case scenario’ warns of a rise in public disorder, a hike in food prices and reduced medical supplies


Hopefully this guide has helped you understand the mess that is Brexit! If you’d like regular informative updates I highly recommend Brexitcast, a 30 minute podcast on BBC Sounds which is recorded after every Brexit ‘event’ – which is around every 3 days at the moment! It also features no other than Laura Kuenssburg (aka my idol).


Exeter Contributor 
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