As MPs ponder Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal, the British public has been searching online to find out more information about what it all means.
Here are the UK’s 10 most-Googled questions on Brexit so far on Wednesday.
- What is the Brexit deal?
Earlier this week, the Government announced it had reached agreement on a draft Brexit deal with the European Union, which sets out the terms of Britain’s departure and outlines both sides’ plans for the future relationship.
The agreement is extremely wide-ranging – the document contains 585 pages – and covers an array of things including the status of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa, the amount Britain must pay to leave, and, crucially, arrangements for the Irish border.
- What is Brexit?
“Brexit” is a slang term meaning “British exit”. It covers Britain’s departure from the European Union, which the public voted for in a referendum in 2016.
- What is the backstop in Brexit?
The “backstop” arrangement for the Irish border outlined in the Prime Minister’s deal would create a single EU-UK customs area. This means the UK would continue to follow the EU’s tariffs and rules on customs, avoiding the need for checks between the EU and UK – including Northern Ireland and the Republic – until a new relationship is decided.
On top of this, however, Northern Ireland would need to follow some of the EU’s single market rules, including laws on goods, agricultural production, veterinary controls and state aid rules.
It is this point that has led many – including Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and a number of Conservative backbench MPs – to oppose the deal.
- When will Parliament vote on the Brexit deal?
This is unclear. If Theresa May and her deal survive the current raft of resignations, then the next stage of the process would see the EU hold an emergency summit on November 25 to finalise the treaty. If the deal passes this stage, then UK MPs are due to vote on it at some point before December 20.
- What is the customs union?
The EU’s customs union is a common agreement which allows all 28 members of the bloc to trade goods with each other without paying a tax on imports.
The rules mean each country charges the same import taxes on countries outside the EU who wish to import goods, and allow for any goods that have been imported into an EU country to pass through the bloc without any further checks.
- What is in the Brexit deal?
The Brexit deal covers many different areas, but the main point dividing MPs is the arrangement for the Irish border in the time between Britain leaving and a final deal on the future relationship.
This would see a so-called “backstop” put in place to ensure there would be no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if negotiations on the future relationship have not been completed.
Among other headline proposals are the protection of rights of EU citizens living in the EU and UK citizens in the EU, and the £39 billion “divorce” settlement the UK will pay on departure.
It also provides for a transition period after the UK leaves in March running to the end of 2020, with the option of a one-off extension if more time is needed to conclude an agreement on the future relationship.
- Will Brexit happen?
At present, the Prime Minister insists Britain will leave the European Union on March 29, as planned when the Government triggered Article 50. However, the path for this is unclear. If the deal is rejected by MPs or if Mrs May ceases to be Prime Minister before it reaches that stage, the process could be derailed.
- When was the Brexit vote?
The UK’s referendum on EU membership was held on June 23 2016.
- How many ministers have resigned over Brexit?
At the time of writing 14 ministers have left the Government since 2017 – nine of whom resigned over Brexit.
David Davis and Dominic Raab both quit as Brexit Secretary, Boris Johnson left the role of Foreign Secretary, and Esther McVey resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary, while Shailesh Vara, Suella Braverman, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Ranil Jayawardena quit from junior Government roles. All objected to Theresa May’s plans for leaving the European Union.
Jo Johnson, brother of Boris, was the only minister to leave his role because he did not want Brexit to happen at all, saying he wanted a second referendum to avoid a “terrible mistake”.
- When is Brexit?
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. As mentioned above, it is possible this could change if the Brexit deal is rejected or if the Conservative Party appoints a new leader.