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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

New Brexit Deal

19th October 2019

Why in news?

Secured a Brexit deal with the European Union on recently, more than three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson must still win a knife-edge vote in Parliament to get the agreement approved.

 About Brexit :

  • A blend of “Britain” and “exit”, the word was coined by former lawyer Peter Wilding four years before the vote for the UK to leave the EU took place.
  • The EU, built on the ruins of World War Two to integrate economic power and end centuries of European bloodshed, is now a group of 28 countries which trade and allow their citizens to move between nations to live and work.
  • In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 52 percent of British voters backed leaving while 48 percent voted to remain in the bloc. Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum, resigned immediately afterwards.

Why is it taking so long to leave?

  • The referendum was a simple yes or no vote. It left lawmakers to decide the mechanics of how to leave the EU.
  • In order to leave, the UK had to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty, which outlines the steps for a member state to withdraw.
  • Cameron’s successor Theresa May formally triggered Article 50 in March 2017 which set the clock ticking for the UK to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal by March 29, 2019.
  • The deadline was extended three times, to Oct. 31, 2019 after parliament three times rejected the deal May had struck with the EU. May resigned in June.

Issues faced in the deal :

  • Parliament has to ratify the deal agreed by the government. But, some lawmakers favour a “hard” Brexit where the UK withdraws from the EU customs union and single market, that allows member states to act as a trading bloc, to pursue its own trade deals with other countries.
  • “Soft” Brexiteers want to maintain some trade ties with the EU, but are divided themselves as to their extent.
  • Some lawmakers are staunch remainers and some believe the country should hold a second referendum.
  • Sticking Point – Northern Ireland
  • A sticking point to parliament approving a deal has been the border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and Ireland, which remains part of the EU.
  • Since the 1998 peace deal, which ended three decades of violence between Irish unionists and nationalists, free trade and movement of people between EU member states has meant there is virtually no border between Ireland and the UK.

About the New Deal :

  • Northern Ireland remains in the UK’s customs territory, but all EU rules will apply to goods arriving there in this complex system. There will be no customs checks at a “hard” border on the island of Ireland — they will be done at the point of entry into Northern Ireland.
  • For goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are deemed to be staying there, no EU tariffs will apply.
  • No EU tariffs would be paid on personal goods carried by travelers across the Irish frontier and for a second category of exempted goods that can only be for immediate consumption, rather than subsequent processing.
  • As long as the goods do not cross to Ireland and the EU’s single market, only UK customs tariffs will apply.
  • The Northern Irish assembly will have to give consent after Brexit for the region’s continued alignment with the EU regulatory regime every four years. But there will be no executive veto option by the Democratic Unionist Party, as originally envisaged. Instead, it will require a simple majority agreement.
  • The UK and the EU aim to establish an ambitious and wide-ranging free trade agreement — these talks will form the second stage of EU-UK talks.
  • Both sides want to reach a deal on services and allow free movement of capital.
  • They also agree to uphold high standards on environment, climate, workers’ rights and other rules — this was a key concession by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s side.

Facts for Prelims

Saharan Silver Ant :

  • Saharan silver ant is the fastest of the world’s 12,000 known ant species.

 A mode-S transponder :

  • A mode-S transponder is an electronic address which is unique to a country and each plane.
  • These are assigned under different categories — IAF, civilian aircraft and AAI’s ground equipment.

 Mount Paektu :

  • Mount Paektu or Changbai (in Chinese) is a volcanic mountain that last erupted over 1,000 years ago.
  • It is situated at the border between DPRK and China and for centuries has been considered sacred by the Koreans since they treat it to be the spiritual origin of the Korean kingdom, where the founder was born.
  • At a height of about 9,000 feet, it is also the highest peak in the Korean peninsula.


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