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’.
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.
In November 2019, the Government made an agreement with the EU about how the UK can leave the EU. It’s important to realise that this agreement, sometimes called ‘a deal’ is only about how the UK will leave the EU. It is NOT an agreement about what will happen after the UK has left. All of the thousands of agreements currently in place with the EU, covering trade, travel, customs, healthcare, technology etc, still need to be renegotiated and made again between the UK and EU.
Under the Government’s November 19 agreement, the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 but most things would stay the same until the end of 2020, or possibly 2021. This period when most things would not change is called the ‘transition period’. The transition period is designed to give the EU and UK time to re-make the thousands of agreements which will end when we leave. However, everyone except a few politicians say that agreeing international treaties and agreements covering everything necessary will take many years. An 11 month or 23 month transition period is not very likely to be long enough for the EU and UK to replace the many thousands of agreements which we have at the moment. So, there is still a real risk that the UK will leave the EU with a ‘no deal’ or a ‘partial no deal’ in the future.
As a responsible disability charity, we therefore think it’s sensible for all disabled people and carers to start preparing for potential Brexit problems. This advice applies whenever we leave.
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