Brexit Q&A

With Brexit fast approaching, we understand there may be a lack of clarity over what this might mean for Londoners. We've answered some of your most frequently-asked questions below.

What happens on 31 January?

The UK will no longer be a member of the European Union.

Even though the UK will not be in the EU anymore, it has agreed a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU which will keep a similar relationship in place until the end of December 2020. The UK Government is changing the law so this can happen.

What will be different for Londoners after 31 January?

Londoners won't notice immediate changes to their daily life because the UK and EU have agreed that there will be a transition period until the end of December 2020, during which time existing EU rules will continue to apply. This means there will still be free movement of people between the UK and EU, and the UK will remain part of the EU’s single market and customs union.

However, those who need to make work, study or personal plans beyond December will face more challenges.

This is because the UK and EU still need to agree what rules will apply after December 2020 in respect of trade and immigration between the EU and UK. The closer we get to the end of the year without an agreement, the more uncertainty there will be, especially as the Government has said it will not extend the transition period into 2021.

What will happen after the transition period?

The Government has said it will agree a new trade relationship with the EU, and that it will introduce new immigration rules for EU nationals by end of December 2020.  But the government has also said that it wishes to diverge from existing EU rules (without specifying how) and that it will not extend the transition period beyond 31 December 2020. That means there is unlikely to be time to negotiate sensible new agreements with the EU.

Is a no deal Brexit still possible?

If no deals on trade or immigration are concluded by 31 December, then the very negative effects of a ‘no deal’ for people and business that were predicted in 2019 would effectively apply; including queues at the border for people and goods, and tariff and non-tariff barriers between the EU and UK that prevent us from trading goods and services.

What does this mean for EU Londoners?

Europeans resident in the United Kingdom under Freedom of Movement will see their residence status change when the UK leaves the EU. The UK Government has agreed with the EU a new status for Europeans already resident in the United Kingdom, to allow them to continue living and working in the country. This new residence status is called Settled Status.

We encourage all European Londoners to apply for this as soon as possible – although they have until 30 June 2021 to do so. We have put together all the information you need to know about this on our EU Londoners Hub.

What does this mean for London businesses?

Many London businesses rely on European colleagues. We need to reassure them that they belong here and support them to settle their status.

Some businesses remain unprepared and are waiting to be clearer about the terms on which we will trade with the EU in the future. This makes it more likely they could be unprepared for the changes that may happen, and are more likely to suffer from any impact when the transition period ends.

To support London’s businesses, we have launched a Brexit Business Resource Hub where we are offering practical advice from EU experts, through factsheets and events, about what steps to take.

If you are an employer with staff who may be European nationals, it is important to support them to secure their future rights and ability to remain working in the UK. Our EU Londoners Hub has all relevant information on the EU Settlement Scheme and how to apply.

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