The term has almost reached the point where uttering it is met with the same revulsion as uttering a swear word would get you. Realistically it is just a buzz word, created by smashing the words Britain and Exit together. A somewhat cute term that can be thrown about in order to distract from the seriousness of the end result.
Brexit is the process by which the United Kingdom will divorce itself from the European Union following the landmark vote on 23rd June 2016 where 51.9% of the voting population voted in favour of leaving.
The deadline for Brexit coming into effect will be the 29th of March and at the time of writing, we still don’t know if the UK will have a deal in place with the EU or not. There will be a number of votes held in the coming week to decide if the UK will leave with a deal or not.
The importance of this vote comes down to the timeframe that the UK will have when leaving the EU. Should the vote swing in favour of the no deal exit then the date of leaving the EU will come into force somewhat unceremoniously on the 29th of March. A vote that goes in favour of Prime Minister Teresa May’s negotiations with the EU will mean that the UK will have a gradual leaving process that will come into full effect after December 2020.
It goes without saying that this is a stressful time for the UK as well as UK citizens that are living across the world. There is an air of uncertainty surrounding the proceedings and many people are questioning what changes might be coming their way in the coming weeks.
To ease some of these tensions there was an event held at the Radisson Blu Saga hotel called BritIce2019. This follows on from BritIce2018 which was the first of these events whose main purpose is to communicate the information from the Icelandic and UK governments and also connect UK citizens with the embassy.
The event, hosted by the UK ambassador to Iceland Michael Nevin, opened with a video message from the Icelandic foreign minister who was unable to be there in person.
“You make an important contribution to Iceland and we want you to stay” was his message and this was very much the overall tone of the evening.
Following on from this Mr. Nevin himself spoke to us. He gave us the details of the UK governments position, what hurdles they still had to face as well as rough timelines of how things would progress in both the deal and no deal scenarios. Similarly to the message of the Icelandic foreign minister Mr. Nevin wanted to push the idea that Uk citizens who wanted to stay in Iceland would be able to do so and similarly Icelanders living in the UK would be able to stay there.
Following on from the messages from the Icelandic foreign minister and Mr. Nevin we heard from Nikulas Hannigan who works at the ministry of foreign affairs. He was also very positive and wanted to stress that there would be no change in citizens rights and that this process could potentially lead to even better relationships and trade agreements between the UK and Iceland. Perhaps Mr. Hannigan’s best quotes of the evening though were as follows:
“Iceland is not an overly bureaucratic country so you can rely on common sense prevailing”
“Common sense will prevail and hopefully will on the UK end too”
From there the function moved to collect questions from the floor and this is where the evening began to become a little frustrating. Many of the valid questions and concerns from the floor which ranged from minor disputes ver driving licences to the potential for large businesses to have to close down were unable to reach a satisfying answer.
With the question still on the table regarding whether we will have a deal or a no deal Brexit, it became clear that there were still many things up in the air and that pre-planning a variety of solutions for each outcome could only go so far.
Despite that, there was a genuine sense that the panel did care about these concerns and while they were unable to put them to rest immediately they were confident that there would be nothing stopping people living in Iceland largely as they had been doing before.
UK citizens are urged to go to the “Living-in” guide for Iceland which can be found here. This will be a dynamically updated document that will provide all the official information about Brexit and what you will need to keep in mind as the exit date approaches.
You can also read the separation agreement made between the EEA and EFTA from the Department for Exiting the European Union here.
As well as a document detailing citizens rights in a no-deal scenario here.