Brexit: Jargon-busting guide to the key terms

Confused by all the Brexit jargon in the news? Here's a glossary to demystify commonly used EU-related terms.

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10 key terms

Brexit day

  • 31 January 2020, when the UK's membership of the European Union officially came to an end.

Consent Mechanism

  • Under Boris Johnson's revised Brexit deal, Northern Ireland will follow some EU rules.
  • In order for the arrangement to continue, the Northern Ireland Assembly will need to give consent.
  • This will come in the form of a vote every four years.
  • If the Northern Ireland Assembly votes against, the arrangement will come to an end two years later during which time the "joint committee" would make recommendations to the UK and EU on "necessary measures".
  • Once the joint committee is set up, it will consist of a panel of UK and EU representatives.

Customs Plan

  • Boris Johnson's Brexit deal includes a customs plan.
  • Under it, some goods entering Northern Ireland from GB will have to pay EU import taxes (known as tariffs).
  • The tax will only have to be paid on goods which are deemed "at risk" of entering the Republic of Ireland.
  • The list of "at risk" goods will be decided at a later date.
  • If goods subsequently remain in Northern Ireland (ie do not travel to the Republic of Ireland), companies will be able to apply for a refund on the tax they've paid.

What is in Boris Johnson's Brexit plan?


  • How rules and regulations could differ between the EU and the UK after Brexit.

Brexit: What is a level playing field?

Divorce bill

  • The money the UK agrees to pay to the EU as part of a Brexit deal.
  • It is expected to be about £30bn, to be paid over a number of years.
  • It was based on UK's share of EU budgets up to the end of 2020 as well as continuing liabilities such as EU civil servants' pensions.
  • Some of that money has been paid as part of the UK's normal membership contributions already.

How much does the UK owe the EU?

Joint Committee

  • The joint committee is a panel that will be set up to supervise how the Brexit deal is put into action.
  • It will be made up of an equal number of UK and EU representatives.

No deal

  • A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK leaving the European Union and cutting ties immediately, with no agreement in place.
  • However, the UK left on 31 January with the withdrawal deal negotiated by Boris Johnson.
  • A transition period started on the next day, ending on December 31 2020.
  • If no UK-EU trade deal is ready, the UK would then have to follow World Trade Organization rules to trade with the EU and other countries, until a deal is ready to be implemented.

Settled status

  • EU citizens and their families who have been living in the UK for five years can apply for "settled status", which allows them to stay in the UK for as long as they wish.
  • Any child born in the UK to a mother with settled status will automatically become a British citizen.
  • Settled status means you can work in the UK, use the NHS, have access to pensions and benefits and travel in and out of the UK.
  • Applications from people with serious criminal convictions, or where there are other security concerns, can be rejected.

Transition period

  • The transition period is intended to allow time for the UK and EU to agree their future relationship.
  • The UK will have no say in the making of new EU laws during the transition but will have to follow all EU rules, including freedom of movement.
  • The transition is due to last until 31 December 2020 and could be extended by up to two years if both the UK and the EU wanted.
  • However, Boris Johnson has ruled out any extension to the transition.

What is the transition period?

WTO rules

  • If countries don't have free-trade agreements, they usually trade with each other under rules set by the World Trade Organization.
  • Each country sets tariffs - or taxes - on goods entering. For example, cars passing from non-EU countries to the EU are charged at 10% of their value.
  • But tariffs on some agricultural products are much higher - dairy averages more than 35%.
  • If the UK chooses to put no tariffs on goods from the EU, it must also have no tariffs on goods from every WTO member.

Reality Check: What does a 'WTO Brexit' mean?

Brexit explained

Brexit - British exit - refers to the UK leaving the EU. A public vote was held in June 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain.

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