Brexit fallout
October 1, 2020

The executive branch of the European Union informed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday that it's taking legal action over legislation that would breach the legally binding EU-U.K. divorce deal passed last year and also, by the Johnson government's own admission, violate international law. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the legal action, saying Britain's Internal Market Bill "will be in full contradiction to the protocol of Ireland-Northern Ireland" agreed to in the Brexit accord. London has until Oct. 31 to respond.

The EU had set a Wednesday deadline for Britain to withdraw the bill, which gives London the power to ignore the Brexit deal's agreement on the 300-mile-long border between Ireland — which is part of the EU — and Northern Ireland, part of the U.K. The EU and U.S. lawmakers are concerned that Britain may reimpose a hard border between the two nations, reigniting the long conflict pacified by the 1998 Good Friday accord. Johnson's government insists it respects the Good Friday accord and Brexit agreement but wants a "safety net."

The lower chamber of Parliament, the House of Commons, passed the Internal Market Bill on Tuesday night, 340-256, over strenuous objections from opposition lawmakers and some members of the ruling Conservative Party. It is expected to face a tougher fight in the House of Lords, where the violations of international law are being taken more seriously.

This further breakdown in EU-U.K. ties will also complete ongoing trade negations. The talks are supposed to conclude Friday, but they are expected to continue for at least two more weeks. If no agreement is reached, Britain leaves the EU on Dec. 31 with no trade arrangement. Peter Weber

July 15, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a pro-European Union note while speaking with voters Saturday, reflecting on the United Kingdom's decision to exit the EU. She argued a united Europe "is worth fighting for," touting her election slogan, "If Europe is stronger, then Germany will be stronger."

"For many people, including myself, something changed when we saw the Britons want to leave, when we were worried about the outcome of the elections in France and the Netherlands," Merkel said. "We have realized in the past few months that Europe is more than just bureaucracy and economic regulation, that Europe and living together in the European Union have something to do with war and peace, that the decades of peace after World War Two would have been completely unthinkable without the European Union."

Merkel is campaigning for re-election in September; she has been chancellor since 2005. Bonnie Kristian

May 17, 2017

The largest global banks plan to move about 9,000 jobs from Lon­don to con­ti­nental Europe over the next two years, according to statements that have been made since the Brexit vote. Among the companies considering the move are Standard Chartered, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs. While those 9,000 jobs represent just 2 percent of Lon­don's finance jobs, Britain's tax revenue would suffer from losing high-income taxpayers. Some analysts believe that loss of tax revenue could result in the rest of the population paying more in taxes. The Week Staff

August 16, 2016

After British voters collectively decided to leave the European Union in June, Britons who did not want to leave Europe started looking for ways to keep their unfettered access to the Continent. One surprising method embraced by some British Jews is to apply for citizenship in Germany, using a 1949 German law that confers German citizenship on anyone who was stripped of it from 1933 to May 1945 "on political, racial, or religious grounds," including their descendants, The New York Times reports. Most of those people who lost their citizenship during the Nazi regime were Jews, and millions of those who did not escape were killed in concentration camps.

Since the Brexit vote, however, at least 400 Britons have asked the German embassy in London about getting citizenship under that law, called Article 116, and at least 100 individuals and families have already applied, embassy official Knud Noelle tells The New York Times, adding, "We expect more in coming weeks." Among those considering seeking a German passport is Michael Newman, chief executive of the London-based Association of Jewish Refugees, who says he had never heard of such a thing before June. "I don't remember hearing of [German citizenship] requests before" in the group's 75-year history, he told The New York Times. "It's taken Brexit to do this. It was a game-changer." You can read more about the complicated emotional calculus involved in the decision, as well as the practical upsides (dual citizenship!), at The New York Times. Peter Weber

July 13, 2016

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron will tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II after a final round of sparring with the House of Commons, paving the way for Home Secretary Theresa May to take over by Wednesday evening. May, 59, won the race for leadership of the Conservative Party without a vote, after her final rival, Andrea Leadsom, bowed out on Monday. She will be Britain's second female prime minister, after Margaret Thatcher, also a Tory. Cameron has been prime minister since 2010, and he did not seem too despondent about giving up power.

Cameron, who announced his intention to step down after Britain voted to leave the European Union last month, says he will remain a member of Parliament. May, who's been home secretary since 2010 and was in Parliament for 13 years before that, also opposed Brexit, but not very vocally. She is considered a pragmatic moderate in her party, more like Germany's Angela Merkel than Thatcher. You can watch Thatcher, Cameron, and all prime ministers in between begin and end their leadership stints in the BBC News compilation video below. Peter Weber

June 29, 2016

With Britain roiling in the wake of the Brexit vote last week, Prime Minister David Cameron's frustration boiled over during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday with Cameron shouting at the Labour Party leader to resign.

"For heaven's sake man, go!" Cameron roared at Jeremy Corbyn as the Tory benches erupted into cheers.

Corbyn lost his no-confidence vote Tuesday. Shortly after the vote, the Labour Party released a statement accepting the motion that it "has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as Leader," adding to pressure for Corbyn to step down. Corbyn, however, has vowed he would not resign.

"There are people around Jeremy who are prepared to see the Labour Party split rather than for him to go," Dame Margart Beckett, who nominated Corbyn for the Labour leadership last year, told Radio 4. "That is anathema to everybody who thinks that we need to get rid of this Government and the damage that they are doing." Jeva Lange

June 28, 2016

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn lost his no-confidence vote Tuesday, with 172 votes against him, 40 in support, and four abstentions. Shortly after the vote, the Labour Party released a statement accepting the motion that it "has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as Leader," adding to pressure for Corbyn to step down after last week's Brexit vote. Corbyn's detractors argue that he didn't do enough to support the party's stance on the Brexit and sway Brits against voting to exit the European Union.

While Tuesday's vote is "nonbinding," The Washington Post reports that it's "likely to lead to a new leadership contest that could deepen divisions within a party already riven with fractures between its moderates and hard-left factions." BBC reports that there already "names in the frame" for Corbyn's potential challengers, including Tom Watson and Angela Eagle.

Corbyn, however, has already vowed that he will not resign. "I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning," Corbyn said in a statement after the vote Tuesday. "Today's vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy. We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists, and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country." Becca Stanek

June 28, 2016

On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that the U.K. is in no hurry to invoke Article 50, triggering the process of withdrawing Britain from the European Union, while EU lawmakers and the leaders of Germany, Italy, and France said Britain should invoke Article 50 as soon as possible. Cameron and his EU counterparts will be able to discuss the timing and other Brexit details at a two-day summit starting Tuesday; Cameron will meet with EU leaders up through a working dinner on Tuesday, but not attend the second day with the 27 other leaders of the 28-member European Union.

Germany's Angela Merkel said Tuesday that Britain may want "close relations" with Europe, but "whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges." Some Britons are hoping to remain in the EU tariff-free union but not have to abide by other EU rules like open borders, but Merkel ruled that out: "We will ensure that the negotiations are not carried out with the principle of cherry picking." At an emergency session of the European Parliament, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made clear that nobody in the EU will start negotiations on Britain's exit until the U.K. starts the clock. "No notification, no negotiation," he said. "I want the U.K. to clarify its position. Not today, not tomorrow at 9 a.m., but soon. We cannot allow ourselves to remain in a prolonged period of uncertainty." Peter Weber

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