After a referendum in 2016, Britain plans to leave the European Union (EU) after 45 years as a member of this European alliance. The word Brexit means ‘British Exit’.
There is a lot of uncertainty about when the UK may leave the EU. While the original date was 29 March, he Government now intends to do so on 31 October, if not before. We believe our guidance and information in this document will be relevant whenever we leave.
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’, which is what some people say about all warnings that Brexit may not have good results.
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 the years, 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, and the child who is leaving builds new models. 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 typically it is less easy for them to adapt and cope in the same way as non-disabled people. They also 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, travel and citizens rights will work after Brexit. BuDS does not know whether this agreement will be made before the UK leaves the EU, whether that happens on 31 October 2019 or on another date. Leaving without an agreement is sometimes called a ‘no-deal Brexit’.
Overall, BuDS thinks it is more likely than not that Brexit will lead to some problems for disabled people and carers. While we believe it is inevitable that there will be some confusion and disruption even if there is an agreement with the EU before Brexit happens, we think there will be lots of serious problems for disabled people if there is no agreement with the EU in place by Brexit day (a ‘no-deal Brexit’) .
As a responsible disability charity, we think it’s sensible for all disabled people and carers to start preparing for these Brexit problems. This advice applies whether we leave on 31 October 2019 or on another date.
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