And now for the Back Story on …
What the Brexit deal means
We talked to Mark Landler, The Times’s London bureau chief, about the Brexit deal that was approved this week. (This Q. and A. has been edited for brevity.)
How will the new relationship between Britain and the E.U. affect people’s everyday lives?
The purpose of the 1,200-page trade deal between Britain and the E.U. was to avoid very disruptive changes, such as tariffs and quotas. But there’ll be an array of other bureaucratic requirements that did not exist before Jan. 1.
People won’t see a sudden shift in the price of fresh fruit and vegetables in London supermarkets. But it’ll have an impact on Britons who, for example, want to bring their dog on vacation to the continent or who want to get a job somewhere in the E.U.
What will this mean for Britain’s economy?
A lot of stuff still needs to be negotiated. A major driving force of the British economy is the services sector, including legal, financial, consulting and other services. Virtually none of that is covered yet in the trade agreement.
How did the pandemic impact the process?
Without it, the negotiations for the trade deal would have been the biggest story in the country. But Brexit was almost completely overshadowed by the coronavirus. Britain is preoccupied with this health crisis, which will muffle the immediate effects of Brexit. But over time those will become more visible. Which means that the debate over Brexit may not be finished in the country.
Will this deliver the “global Britain” that pro-Brexit campaigners hoped for?
One of the driving arguments in favor of Brexit was throwing off the shackles of the E.U., so that Britain would become this agile, dynamic, independent economy that could strike deals with everyone in the world. But rising protectionism and populism have made making free-trade agreements harder. The “global Britain” arguments looked more valid in May 2016 than in January 2021. In a way, the Brexit vision is four and a half years too late.
That’s it for this briefing. See you in the new year.
Claire Moses wrote today’s Back Story. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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