Brexit Day 2020: When is the UK due to leave the EU and how will it happen?

Telegraph reporters
Brexit Day 2020: When is the UK due to leave the EU and how will it happen? - Ben Stansall /AFP
Brexit Day 2020: When is the UK due to leave the EU and how will it happen? - Ben Stansall /AFP

Although Britain technically left the EU on January 31, its relationship with the EU remains the same in practice until the end of the transition period, December 31, 2020. This could have been delayed, but the Government did not ask for an extension.

Will the UK leave the EU with a deal?

A no-deal Brexit is the default legal position if the EU and UK cannot come to agree their future relationship, which is considered increasingly likely by several EU nations, who called for no-deal plans to be published by the EU Commission.

On November 19, UK-EU trade talks were temporarily suspended today after a negotiator from Michel Barnier's team tested positive for Covid-19.

On Twitter, David Frost, the UK's chief negotiator, said: "I am in close contact with Michel Barnier about the situation. The health of our teams comes first. I would like to thank the EU Commission for their immediate help and support."

Boris Johnson self-isolated for two weeks from November 16 as an MP, Lee Anderson, tested positive after sitting down with him for a breakfast meeting.

Last Sunday, Lord Frost stoked fears that a 'no-deal' Brexit could be on the cards when he arrived in Brussels for renewed talks, warning “we may not succeed” in securing a Brexit trade deal.

Mr Frost said some progress had been made but there remained “significant” differences between the UK and EU's stances on fishing rights and the level playing field.

The EU wants 50 per cent of the catch in British waters and the UK sticking at 20 per cent.

Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Minister, repeated the EU’s warning that it would not ratify any deal unless clauses in the Internal Market Bill overriding the Brexit divorce terms were dropped, although he also suggested that issue will “disappear” if there is a wider trade deal.

A deal must be struck well before the new year if it is to be be ratified in time.

How likely is a no deal Brexit?
How likely is a no deal Brexit?

What will happen on Brexit Day if there is no deal? 

The leak of Yellowhammer – Whitehall code for preparations for no deal –  laid bare civil servants’ concerns about the impact of a no-deal without adequate planning. This plan was for a full no-deal, which was averted by the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement earlier this year. 

Yellowhammer disclosed that the UK would be hit by a three-month "meltdown" at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of fresh food and medicine after it leaves leaves the bloc.

While some aspects of the report will no longer be relevant, a failure to secure a trade deal could still lead to chaos at Britain's borders. A lack of a deal would mean Britain being treated as any other "third country" by the EU, which would mean tariffs and quotas on UK exports to the EU. This would hit agricultural and car exports especially hard. 

Michael Gove, the man charged with no-deal preparations, has instigated a plan for lorries to require permits to enter Kent to prevent them queueing at the border. He has warned of thousands of haulage vehicles without proper export documents getting stuck in the county.  

The House of Lords’ overwhelming vote against the controversial Internal Market Bill on 9th November is yet another problem in the road up to Brexit, as Boris Johnson was voted against by 433 to 165. The bill, which would allow the UK to renege on its obligations in the Withdrawal Agreement, unanimously voted against by the Lords, who labelled the legislation as ‘Trump-like’. 

However, despite this opposition, the government has said it would reinstate the changes to the bill when it returns to the House of Commons next month. This is just weeks before the UK is set to leave the EU entirely. 

At a glance | Operation Yellowhammer
At a glance | Operation Yellowhammer

What would happen after the UK leaves the EU with no deal?

Could there be another delay to Brexit?

Legally speaking another extension could happen if all EU countries, including the UK, agree to it. However, the deadline for an extension has passed and the UK Government is determined not to have one.

Now, with less than one month until the UK leaves the EU for good, it is highly unlikely that we will see a delay, as doing so late in the day would be legally, technically and politically very difficult.