The “Town Hall Meeting” will be held at the Budapest Marriott Hotel on January 9, 2019 and attendees will be able to participate in a question-and-answer session. As a primer for the meeting, here is The Budapest Times’ basic guide to the so-called Brexit.

What does Brexit mean?

The word is a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU, merging “Britain” and “exit” in the same way as a possible Greek exit from the euro was dubbed “Grexit” in the past (and “Gexit” refers to a hypothetical German withdrawal).

Why is Britain leaving?

A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on June 23, 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain. The former won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.

England voted for Brexit by 53.4% to 46.6% and so did Wales by 52.5% to 47.5%. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU, Scotland by 62% to 38% and Northern Ireland by 55.8% to 44.2%.

What exactly is the European Union?

The European Union is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries, including Hungary since 2004. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together were more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has since grown to become a "single market" allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas, including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things such as mobile phone charges.

When is the UK due to leave?

For the UK to do so it had to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the split. British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered this process on March 29, 2017, meaning the UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm UK time on Friday, March 29, 2019. A European court has ruled that the UK can decide to stop the process. Alternatively, it can be extended if all 28 EU members agree, but at the moment all sides are focusing on that date as being the key one, and May has put it into British law.

So is Brexit definitely happening?

The March 29, 2019 date is the law, regardless of whether there is a deal with the EU or not. Stopping Brexit would require a change in the law in the UK. The European Court of Justice ruled on December 10, 2018 that the UK could cancel the Article 50 Brexit process without the permission of the other 27 EU members, and remain a member of the EU on its existing terms, provided the decision followed a "democratic process". Prime Minister May has warned Conservative MPs thinking of voting against the deal she has reached with the EU that they risk "no Brexit at all". This is a reference to another referendum, which is backed by the Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) the Green Party, a small number of Conservatives and larger group of Labour MPs, who want the public to be given the final say, with the option to remain in the EU. They are trying to get the leadership of the main opposition party, Labour, to back them – but Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn wants to try to force a general election first.

Could Brexit be delayed?

The EU might agree to extend Article 50 if its leaders thought there was a chance the UK could end up staying in, possibly through another referendum, but it would only be by a few months. Labour wants to win a possible general election and then go back to Brussels to negotiate its version of Brexit. This would also require the deadline being pushed back from March 29, something the EU might agree to, to give a new UK government the chance to make its case. If Labour can't force a general election it has said it will push for another referendum, but it has yet to say what it thinks the question on the ballot paper should be.

What's the current position on the Brexit deal?

After months of negotiation, the UK and EU agreed a two-part Brexit deal. First, a 585-page withdrawal agreement is a legally-binding text that sets the terms of the divorce. It covers how much money the UK owes the EU – an estimated £39 billion – and what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK. It also proposes a method of avoiding the return of a physical Northern Ireland border. Second, a 26-page statement on future relations. This is not legally-binding and sketches out the kind of long-term relationship the UK and EU want to have in a range of areas, including trade, defence and security. The UK Cabinet agreed the withdrawal agreement text on November 14 but there were two resignations, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. MPs have been debating the deal but the Prime Minister postponed a Commons vote scheduled for December 11 to seek "further assurances" from the EU for MPs about the post-Brexit plan for the Irish border. Downing Street says the vote will be rescheduled for January 21 at the latest, although Brexit Minister Robin Walker told MPs he hoped it would be sooner.

"Town Hall Meeting"
Place: Budapest Marriott Hotel
Address: 1052 Budapest, Apáczai Csere János u. 4.
17:30-18:00 Registration
18:00 General overview on citizens’ rights for British nationals in Hungary by Ambassador Lindsay and senior representative of the Hungarian Government
18:30 Q & A
19:30 Finish

The event is free of charge but subject to registration.


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