Brexit Illustration

Illustration by Billy Lawson

Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31, 2020 after nearly three-and-a-half years of debating, negotiating and arguing between political parties. What was once seen as a country with strong ties to its European allies will no longer be affiliated with the centralized union of European countries. But what does this mean for the rest of the world? For the United States? 

Brexit expert and University of Oregon Political Science professor Craig Parsons expects very little impact on the United States, let alone Oregon. 

“The bottom line is that it's a very big deal in the medium- and long-term,” Parsons said. “I mean, what just happened last week is not that big a deal.” 

Parsons added that the Brexit everyone saw occur on Jan. 31 was just a formal removal of Britain from the EU, but in a political sense, the two entities are very much still intact. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain, will now have the opportunity to negotiate a deal with the EU on how their relationship will proceed in the future. Until Dec. 31, 2020, Britain will remain in the EU’s “single market” and within the customs unit — meaning trade and travel will not change until the end of this negotiation period, according to the BBC.

Johnson and his government could negotiate two different deals, according to Parsons. One option would be to extend the relationship with the EU indefinitely and retain the benefits of trade and customs, but keep the same regulations that led to British citizens wanting to leave in the first place.

The second deal would see Johnson “stick to his guns,” Parsons said. Which would mean that a deal would be struck pulling them away from the EU in favor of striking their own deals with countries like the U.S. to offset the loss in trade from the EU. This would hurt Britain because, as Parsons put it, “no one cares that much” about a trade deal with Britain and “this is pretty much a total fantasy.”

Freshman Lilly Mould, a UO student from Birmingham, UK, isn’t all that worried. 

“My mom is self-employed, so it didn't actually affect her too much. But I know my dad, there were some talks about how it was gonna affect his business, but I'm not actually too sure,” Mould said. 

She said being in Eugene has helped her escape what has been years of discussion around this issue. Her biggest worry, as is similar for many people in Britain, is that it will affect her traveling to and from EU countries. Currently, and until a different deal is struck, people residing in most EU countries can travel easily and work without a work permit in other partner countries — with some exceptions for Croatia and Switzerland, according to the EU. Mould is also a tennis player at UO and in the off-season, she travels around Europe for matches, so she’s worried this is going to be a lot more expensive now, she said.

Those in the United States will feel almost no difference with travel to and from Britain, according to Parsons. But some people, Parsons said with emotional ties to the United Kingdom might find that the country will dramatically change in the coming years.