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The Government has begun to replace the word Brexit with EU Exit. Most media reports are following suit. Both terms are likely to be in common use for the foreseeable future. This document refers to EU Exit throughout.
Following the June 2016 UK referendum vote to leave the EU and subsequent government invocation of Article 50 in March 2017, The UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020 and entered the Implementation Phase. During this period, the UK remains a member of the Customs Union and Single Market. This means that trade procedures with the remaining EU members (the EU27) will not change. The Government is now in negotiations to reach agreement on the terms of withdrawal. The Government has said that it does not intend to seek an agreement that involves close alignment with the EU. This suggests that the changes to trade procedures between the UK and the EU27 will be substantial.
The Implementation Phase expires on 31 December 2020, at which time the UK will leave the Customs Union and the Single Market, and consequently the trade procedures will change with immediate effect.
The UK government has the power to extend the period of the Implementation Phase by up to two years. It has until 1July 2020 to take advantage of this facility. The Government has said that it does not intend to extend the Implementation Phase, and if a trade agreement has not been formalised by 31 December 2020 the UK will leave the EU without an agreement.
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