As Britain exits EU, the future is far from clear

Neither Britain nor rest of EU have clear idea what sort of relationship they will likely have

UK Permanent Representative to the EU Tim Barrow (left) delivering the instruments of ratification for Brexit to European Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen in Brussels on Wednesday. PHOTO: REUTERS This file photo, taken on Jan 22, 19
A man raising the Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, on Parliament Square in London yesterday. After a process that lasted over three years, Britain's withdrawal from the European Union is set for 2300 GMT today (7am Singapore time tomorrow). PHOTO: EPA-EFE
UK Permanent Representative to the EU Tim Barrow (left) delivering the instruments of ratification for Brexit to European Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen in Brussels on Wednesday. PHOTO: REUTERS This file photo, taken on Jan 22, 19
This file photo, taken on Jan 22, 1972, shows British Prime Minister Edward Heath (centre) in Brussels signing the Act of Accession to the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
UK Permanent Representative to the EU Tim Barrow (left) delivering the instruments of ratification for Brexit to European Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen in Brussels on Wednesday. PHOTO: REUTERS This file photo, taken on Jan 22, 19
UK Permanent Representative to the EU Tim Barrow (left) delivering the instruments of ratification for Brexit to European Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen in Brussels on Wednesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

As the clocks in London strike 11 tonight, the British will cease to be members of the European Union.

Arguably, this is one of the most momentous developments in Europe and Britain's modern histories. Since its foundation, the EU has been expanding; this is the first time it will be shrinking, by losing one of its most important member-states.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2020, with the headline 'As Britain exits EU, the future is far from clear'. Print Edition | Subscribe