By Jane Thomas
Jane Thomas, European Movement UK activist and board member, explores the impact of Brexit in the first 100 days.
Boris Johnson's promises of getting life back to some semblance of normality in the summer raises the question of what that new normality will be for the UK. Because whilst we are all in this together globally, we are the only country that will be planning our recovery under a totally new set of new trade rules and regulations.
When Boris Johnson framed the General Election campaign of 2019 around getting Brexit done there was little consideration of what “getting it done” actually looked like. And there was no hint of the catastrophe in the shape of Covid-19 that was to befall us. It was a catchy phrase that captured the mood of a fractious nation fed up of post-referendum politics - and the interminable drag of the necessary legislation to enact Brexit.
Now we are beginning to see the size and shape of what ”getting it done” really looks like and some of the impacts are slowly emerging. But many of them are being masked by the pandemic, and some of them are yet still to emerge.
However, as we approach the 100 the day of our leaving the EU (a bit of a poetic license as we really left the EU on January 31st 2020) it feels timely to make an assessment of life in the UK post the EU and to reflect just how much it has lived up to all that was promised.
It has undoubtedly been hard at times to separate Brexit from the overwhelming impact of the pandemic” but there are some issues - such as with the Northern Ireland protocol - that are clearly the result of us leaving the EU and nothing to do with coronavirus.
Since April Fools Day ( coincidentally) the Bylines family has been publishing articles that review these first 100 days with articles from campaigners and activists, those working in national NGOs, academics, politicians, and Bylines writers. They cover topics such as Northern Ireland; food, farming and fishing; the challenges for devolution, for trade, for freedom of movement and the impacts on programmes such as Erasmus.
This is not the time to reflect on the referendum result or even the politics of the last four years. It's time to take stock of the here and now - sunlit uplands or a catastrophic act of self -harm? And what of the future? Will leaving the EU be A help or a hindrance as we come out of the pandemic - an opportunity to build back better, or a drag on our economy and on our opportunities.
One thing that is certain - even after a 100 days - Brexit is not done and is certainly not done with us. Whether it will do for us is another matter.