The new COVID-19 strain in post-Brexit Britain isolates it further from the EU

The new COVID-19 strain is a major challenge, increasing uncertainty for Britain's future plans. At the same time, ambiguities about Britain's exit from the European Union reinforce this uncertainty. The two sides have not reached a trade agreement since Britain left the European Union. Now a new leap in the coronavirus has also shattered Britain's plans for the post-Brexit period. The COVID-19 isolation is not a "nuclear deterrent" but a nuclear bomb.


Although the European Union (EU) has decided to start vaccination in its member countries, Britain is witnessing the emergence of a new coronavirus variant which is said to be spreading 70 times faster than the most common types in the world. The health and economic consequences of Covid-19 have so far had a major impact on the British economy, employment and housing market in addition to Brexit. These negative effects, coupled with the implementation of new trade laws due to the country’s exit from the EU, as well as other restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the pandemic, have caused profound changes in the British economy, employment  and income (GDP). The short-term effects of the new outbreak in the UK can be seen in travel and leisure, transport  and food shortages. These short-term effects will also spread to trade and economic transactions due to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, eliminating all useful options for a transitional period of negotiations with the EU and increasing Britain’s isolation from the EU.

Short-term effects

Although the following are the short-term effects of the new strain of the virus in the UK, it is changing the structure of UK economy, health and trade.

  • Travel and leisure

The outbreak of the new variant in the UK has led countries around the world, especially EU countries, to limit their air, sea and land borders to travellers entering from the UK for business, travel and leisure. Travel restrictions were imposed just before Christmas and the week-long holiday season. Several major European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland and Belgium, banned travel to and from the UK. The British people and government were preparing for the celebrations, but the new variant of the virus cancelled all their plans. The British government ordered people to stay at home.

  • Transport

Border closures have brought the transportation system between Britain and the EU to a halt and air and sea transit between these countries has decreased sharply. Many EU countries, including France, closed their borders to British people and trucks (Britain’s most important trade route with the whole of Europe). This has disrupted the logistics chain and the movement of trucks and ships in British ports.

  • Food shortages

One of the negative effects of the outbreak of the new coronavirus variant in the UK has been to prevent the import of agricultural products such as lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus fruits from the EU and to block trade between these countries. This has led to a shortage of foodstuffs for the British people.

Long-term effects

The problems mentioned above are the short-term effects of the outbreak of the new variant in the UK. Leaving the EU exacerbates these short-term effects.

  • The future of business

The new Covid-19 variant increases uncertainty and brings constant change to the British economy. This means that uncertainty will change the economic structure of Britain in the future, reduce investment and see productivity growth reverse. The new Covid-19 variant will also be a big shock for British companies which will face cash flow shortages over the coming year.

  • Financial-business interactions

Following Britain’s exit from the European Union at the end of January this year, the two sides set an 11-month transition period to negotiate a trade agreement. During these transitional negotiations, the two sides sought a free trade agreement so that Britain could have access to a single European market. But Britain sees its independence and full sovereignty as a precondition. Principles of competition and fishing rights have been two serious issues in the negotiations. But the talks ended without an agreement, and now, with the outbreak of the new variant, its fate has become more ambiguous. This problem is another obstacle to reaching an agreement.

Proponents of Britain’s exit from the EU believe that a free trade policy will boost Britain’s economy. By leaving the EU, Britain is seeking bilateral talks with all countries across the world. But with the outbreak of this new mutated strain, it will lose trade with non-European countries. It has already lost its single EU market after leaving the EU.

Although certain issues were to remain in place after Brexit, these have been thrown into chaos by the coronavirus:

  1. Travel

Until an agreement is reached, British citizens will be EU citizens and air, sea and train travel will continue as usual. After that, British citizens will face new challenges for travel to EU member states; renewing their passports will be one of these.

  1. Driving licences and pet passports

These documents will remain valid until their expiration dates only. At the end of the transition period, Britons will need a green card and third party insurance to drive in Europe. Strict rules for new pet passports and the abolition of free mobile roaming are among other restrictions.

  1. European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card can be used over the negotiations period until an agreement is reached by all EU member states (plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). The European Health Insurance Card allows British citizens to use public health services in the event of an illness or accident in any EU country. Post-Brexit, European health insurance cards will no longer be valid and British citizens must have travel and health insurance.

  1. Living and working in the European Union

Freedom of movement will prevail during the negotiations leading up to an agreement, so British citizens can continue to work or live in any EU country during this period. Free travel between the UK and the EU will end on 1 January 2021 and British citizens must check each country’s regulations separately if they intend to travel to the EU.

  1. Retirement

British citizens living in the EU can receive their pensions.

  1. Trade

Trade between the UK and the EU will continue as usual, without additional costs or customs clearance.


In fact, the short-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak include what was to remain after the UK withdrew from the EU until a free trade agreement was reached.  Due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus strain, Britain has been deprived of these, and it has added to its isolation. Britain is now losing not only the European market but also the markets of other non-European countries for which it left the EU.

The main reason for Britain’s isolation is its exit from the European Union. The role of the mutated coronavirus is to accelerate, deepen, and consolidate Britain’s isolation from the EU.

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