By ECCT staff writers
The United Kingdom (UK) formally left the European Union (EU) at 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020, almost three years since the UK government formally announced its intention to leave the EU, which followed a June 2016 referendum in which 52% of participants voted to leave. The formal Brexit was made possible by the UK parliament's ratification of a formal withdrawal agreement with the EU. The UK is now in a transition period until 31 December 2020 to allow time to negotiate future EU-UK relations. During the transition period the UK will remain subject to EU law and part of the EU customs union and single market, although it is no longer part of the EU's political bodies or institutions. The withdrawal act retains relevant EU law as domestic law, which the UK may subsequently amend or repeal after the transition period ends.
While the government of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed it has delivered on its pre-election promise to "get Brexit done", most analysts have expressed the view that the real difficulties will come not from withdrawal process but in reaching an agreement on future EU-UK relations. The actual impact of Brexit will depend on how closely the UK will be tied to the EU, and whether the transition period ends with terms being agreed. While Johnson's government has expressed confidence that a deal can be negotiated by the end of the transition period, many analysts have pointed out that it usually takes years to negotiate free trade and similar deals and that reaching an agreement by the end of 2020 may be overly ambitious. Regardless of whether or not the two sides can meet the deadline, the broad consensus among economists is that Brexit will likely harm the UK's economy and reduce its real per capita income in the long term, and that the referendum itself damaged the economy.
The UK joined the European Communities (EC) (principally the European Economic Community (EEC)) in 1973, with continued membership endorsed in a 1975 referendum. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty founded the EU, but was not put to a referendum in the UK.