All The Questions You Have About Brexit But Were Too Afraid To Ask

Politics in the U.K. have been a rollercoaster since the 2016 Brexit referendum. It is overwhelming and difficult to keep track of everything that's been going on since then, so here are all the questions you have about Brexit, (but were afraid to ask):

What is Brexit?

Brexit—British exit—refers to the U.K. leaving the European Union.

What is the European Union?

The E.U. is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries. It allows free trade and free movement of people to live and work in whichever country they choose.

Why is the UK leaving the E.U.?

A public vote—or referendum—was held on Thursday, June 23 2016, to decide whether the U.K. should leave or remain. Leave won by 52 percent to 48 percent. The referendum turnout was particularly high (72 percent), with more than 30 million people voting (17.4 million people voted for Brexit).

Why hasn't Brexit happened yet?

Brexit was supposed to happen on March 29, 2019. That was two years after then-Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 in 2017 and started negotiations. Since then, the Brexit date has been delayed twice.

The U.K. and the EU agreed to a deal in November 2018 but MPs rejected it three times. The current Brexit deadline is October 31, 2019.

What is Article 50?

It's a clause in the 2008 Lisbon Treaty which allows an EU member state to withdraw its membership. Activating Article 50 begins the process of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

Could the U.K. leave the EU without a deal?

Yes, it is possible. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants the EU to remove the backstop from the deal. He wants "alternative arrangements" and technological solutions instead. But the EU has so far refused to change the backstop. Johnson has said the U.K. must leave on October 31, even if that is without a deal (angering many, even people in his own party).

What is a no-deal Brexit?

In a no-deal scenario, the U.K. would immediately leave the European Union with no agreement about the "divorce" process. Overnight, the U.K. would leave the single market and customs union of the EU—making trade much more difficult—and most likely having a massive effect on the U.K.'s economy.

no-deal brexit protest
Pro-remain supporters gather in Westminster on September 4, 2019 in London, England. Activists from People's Vote, Young Conservatives and other organisations protested against the governments stance on Brexit as MPs were debating legislation to block a 'No-deal' Brexit. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

What is the backstop?

The backstop is a device in the Withdrawal Agreement intended to ensure that there will not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, even if no formal deal can be reached on trade and security arrangements.

What's Next?

On Tuesday, lawmakers voted—328 to 301—to take control of Parliament away from the government and vote on legislation as soon as Wednesday, that would block the prime minister from making good on his threat of a no-deal Brexit. Boris Johnson was not happy. (Twenty-one members of his own party—known as Tory rebels—voted against him).

On Wednesday, Lawmakers have given preliminary approval to the bill that requires the government to seek an extension to Article 50 if it does not manage to negotiate a deal for the U.K.'s exit from the European Union by the end of October, according to CNN.

The bill will now move on to the committee stage, where MPs can debate amendments.

boris johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the Houses of Parliament on September 3, 2019 in London, England. The Rebel Alliance, including a number of Conservative MPs, have won a vote 328 to 301 for a motion that allows them to take charge of the Parliament order paper tomorrow allowing them to debate on a bill to block a no deal Brexit. (Peter Summers/Getty Images)