Two and a half years after the referendum in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU), it is still unclear what will happen to Brexit.
The British government spent much of that time negotiating an exit agreement that the British Parliament rejected on Friday, for the third time, by 286 votes in favor and 344 against.
- The British Parliament rejects by a large majority the Brexit agreement negotiated by Theresa May
But what is Brexit? How did it get there? What can happen now?
BBC Mundo answers those and others fundamental questions to understand this process that haunts and worries all Britons – and not a few Europeans – for two and a half years.
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1. What is Brexit?
Brexit is an abbreviation for English words Britain (Great Britain) and exit (exit), and is the term coined to refer to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (EU).
The United Kingdom joined the continental bloc, currently made up of 28 countries, on January 1, 1973, but in June 2016 the British decided to leave the EU and end a relationship of more than four decades.
2. How did you get there?
The holding of a referendum to decide whether the United Kingdom should continue or not in the EU was one of the campaign promises with which the then Prime Minister David Cameron achieved re-election in 2015.
And in the vote, which took place on June 23, 2016, 48.1% of the British voted to stay in the block, but 51.8% ruled in favor from leave the EU
- Have British voters changed their mind about Brexit?
Among other things, belonging to the European Union implies the acceptance of the so-called "four fundamental freedoms": the free movement of workers, goods, services and capital.
And the main argument of the campaign in favor of the exit was that with Brexit the British were going to "regain control" on their own issues, particularly on their borders, which would allow better migration control.
3. When will Brexit occur?
In principle, it was stipulated that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union on March 29, 2019.
The deadline, however, can be extended if the British government so requests and the other 27 EU members agree.
And the Court of Justice of the European Union determined that the United Kingdom you can definitely cancel your departure at any moment of the process, so, at least in theory, it could never occur.
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4. What has happened so far?
The decision to leave the European Union caused a real political earthquake in the United Kingdom, forcing the resignation of David Cameron.
And the country has spent the last two and a half years trying to agree on the type of relationship it wants to maintain with the European Union, while the government of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, negotiated The terms of separation.
A first "divorce agreement" between London and Brussels was announced on November 25, 2018 and May's original intention was to put it to a vote in the British Parliament on December 11.
But the British Prime Minister backed down at the last minute, when it became clear that I didn't have the majority needed to the approval of the agreement, promising to return with a better one.
His decision, however, angered enough members of his party to force a vote of no confidence that resulted in May's victory, but did not clear doubts about the future of his agreement.
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Finally the agreement was rejected by an overwhelming majority in Parliament in a vote held on January 15.
On March 12, Parliament again rejected a new proposal submitted by May after weeks of comings and goings to continental Europe.
And, on March 29, May's agreement was rejected for the third time.
5. What does the agreement say?
Among other things, the agreement establishes a transition time It aims to give the parties time to adjust and negotiate the terms of their new relationship.
This transition period would last until December 31, 2020, and during the same there would be no major changes in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The agreement also defines how much money the United Kingdom must pay to the European Union to honor the commitments acquired as a member of the block: about 39,000 million pounds (almost US $ 50,000 million).
And, in it, the parties also undertake to maintain rights for British citizens who currently live and work in other EU countries, and for European citizens living and working in the United Kingdom.
The point of the controversy, however, is a "safeguard" to prevent the installation of a physical border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
This is the main point that May needs to renegotiate May.
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6. Why is the issue of the Irish border so controversial?
The absence of physical barriers between Ireland and Northern Ireland – one of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom – is one of the bases of the peace agreement which ended years of independence violence.
But if the United Kingdom ceases to belong to the customs union of the European Union, as May wants, those barriers may have to be lifted again, although both London and Brussels have committed themselves to not happening.
With that commitment in mind, the exit agreement includes a "safeguard" that states that, while no alternative solutions are found, United Kingdom would remain in a customs union with the European Union, with Northern Ireland forced to align with certain rules of the common European market.
But this provision is unacceptable to deputies of the Democratic Unionist Party, key to the May government, as well as to many conservative parliamentarians.
* This article was originally published in December 2018 and was updated after thethird vote in which the British Parliament rejected again the agreement negotiated by Theresa May.
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