In Depth

Brexit glossary: from max fac and Chequers to Norway and Canada +++

The Week's guide to all the jargon you need to know as the UK gets set to exit the EU

The language of Brexit has proven almost as complicated as the process itself, with the House of Commons library even seeking a specialist Brexit editor to make sense of it all.

With less than six months to go before Britain leaves the EU, “the post has been created to give MPs and their staff the ‘information they need to scrutinise the Brexit process’ and help them make ‘well-informed decisions’”, according to The Times.

Here is just some of the jargon the new Commons employee will have to get their head around and some concise definitions by The Week:

Article 50

This is the formal mechanism for exiting the EU: the clause in the 2007 Lisbon treaty that allows any member state “to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”.

Withdrawal agreement

The UK and EU are negotiating a withdrawal agreement that will cover all parts of Britain's exit from the bloc, including the divorce financial settlement (or “Brexit bill”), Irish border and citizens' rights. It is “separate from any treaty on the UK's future relationship with the bloc, with the withdrawal agreement to be voted on by MPs at the end of the Brexit process”, says Sky News.

Canada +++ or Super Canada model

This potential model of Brexit, favoured by Boris Johnson and the hardline Brexiteers, is a free trade agreement like the one Canada has with the EU, but better (hence +++). Goods traded between the UK and EU have to be checked at the border but there wouldn’t be any import taxes. Brexiteers “want it because it takes the UK out of the EU’s orbit compared to now”, says The Independent, but it is not supported by Theresa May.

Norway model

Favoured by soft-Brexiteers, the Norway model offers an example of what it’s like to remain in the single market, but not be in the EU. The government's own impact assessment found the Norway option would be the least damaging in terms of economic harm but it would involve the UK being a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and thereby accepting freedom of movement and laws of the market that are made in Brussels.

Chequers plan

Theresa May’s Brexit plan named after the Prime Minister's country residence, where it was agreed at a meeting of the Cabinet in July. It includes a “common rulebook” for all goods traded with the EU and a “facilitated customs arrangement”, which aims to maintain frictionless trade in goods but not services or workers, dividing the four freedoms of the EU which have remained the bloc’s red lines in negotiations.

Irish backstop

The backstop is a position of last resort and has been needed for the thorny issue of the Irish border. The challenge has been to find an arrangement that doesn’t derail the peace process by creating a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland or between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. May “wants a backstop that would see the whole of the UK staying in the customs union for a limited period of time after the transition period, something the EU has said is unacceptable”, says the BBC.

Max fac

“Max fac” - short for “maximum facilitation” - is a proposed customs system that “would rely on technological checks to maintain an open border” in Ireland, explains PoliticsHome. It is favoured by Brexiteers but critics say it would not solve the Irish border question as there would still need to be tariff checks on the border, a red line for the Irish government.

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