Following a referendum in 2016, Britain is planning to leave the European Union (EU) after 45 years as a member of this European alliance. The word Brexit means ‘British Exit’.
At the moment, we do not know if the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 or on a later date. The day the UK leaves the EU is called ‘Brexit Day’ and we use these words below to mean 29 March or whatever day is finally agreed as the exit day.
BuDS is not a political charity and we do not support Leaving the EU or Remaining in the EU. We only want to provide disabled people and carers with accurate, reliable, information about issues which may affect them when Brexit happens. We are not part of ‘project fear’.
Why is Brexit a Risk for Disabled People?
The biggest risk from Brexit is that the UK may not be ready for the huge changes which come from leaving the EU after such a long time. A good way of thinking about this situation is to imagine 27 children in a preschool all sharing a huge box of Lego. Over a year, all the children build lots of different multicoloured models and buildings with the Lego. Then one of the children comes along and says, ‘I am leaving – and I’d like to take all the blue bricks with me’. As you can see, even if everyone tried hard, there would be a lot of disruption and confusion for quite some time while all the children sort out the removal of the blue bricks. In the same way, there will be a lot of confusion about Brexit, regardless of whether you think it’s a good or a bad thing.
Disabled people are much more likely to be badly affected by any Brexit problems, because they cannot adapt and cope as easily as non-disabled people, and they have higher needs. Because of this, BuDS’ researchers have been keeping a close expert eye on how preparations for Brexit are going.
The Government is trying to make an agreement with the EU about how things like trade and travel will work after Brexit. However, Parliament so far has not approved any agreement. BuDS does not know whether any agreement will be made before Brexit day. Leaving without an agreement is sometimes called a ‘no-deal Brexit’.
BuDS thinks that there will be less confusion and disruption if an agreement with the EU is in place before Brexit day but that there will still be some problems for disabled people. If there is no agreement with the EU in place by Brexit day (a ‘no-deal Brexit’) then BuDS thinks there will be lots of more serious problems for disabled people.
There is also talk about Brexit Day (the day we leave the EU) being put back so the UK does not leave on 29 March. BuDS does not know whether this will happen or not. But the risk of confusion and disruption is real whether we leave on 29 March or a later date, so we still think disabled people should get ready for Brexit, whenever it happens.
Overall, BuDS thinks that it is now more likely than not that Brexit will lead to some problems for disabled people and carers whether we leave with an agreement or not, whenever we leave. As a responsible disability charity, we think it’s sensible for all disabled people and carers to start preparing for these Brexit problems. Download our free information by using the links below.