Brexit T-Shirt





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The Past, Present and Future of Brexit

What is Brexit?

Brexit is the popular name for the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). It is a portmanteau of the words “Britain” and “exit”.

The UK joined the EU (then known as the European Communities or European Economic Community) in 1973 as one of the nine founding members. This followed years of debate in Britain about joining the emerging European bloc.

Over time, anti-EU sentiment grew among certain groups in Britain who were skeptical of ceding power to Brussels. There were concerns about national sovereignty, immigration control, and Britain’s economy being overly tied to Europe.

Euroscepticism within the Conservative Party led Prime Minister David Cameron to promise an in/out referendum on EU membership if he won the 2015 election. Cameron campaigned for remaining, but the leave side won the June 23, 2016 referendum with 51.9% of the vote compared to 48.1% voting to remain.

This set into motion the UK initiating the withdrawal process from the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting the stage for Brexit. The withdrawal was originally set for March 29, 2019 but was delayed repeatedly due to failure to pass a withdrawal agreement in Parliament.

The term Brexit refers not just to the 2016 referendum but to the entire process of the UK leaving the EU. It has dominated British politics since the vote and negotiations are still ongoing over the future EU-UK relationship on issues like trade, borders, expats’ rights and more.

Brexit has challenged and redefined British identity and its role on the global stage. It demonstrates the tension between those desiring independence versus alignment with the broader European community. The impacts of Brexit will be felt for decades and its future remains uncertain.

A Brief History of Brexit

While the Brexit referendum in 2016 was a pivotal moment, the roots of anti-EU sentiment in the UK go back decades.

  • In the 1960s, the UK declined to join the European Communities multiple times out of concern for national sovereignty. It eventually joined in 1973 under Prime Minister Edward Heath.
  • Margaret Thatcher’s time as PM in the 1980s was marked by a growing skepticism of greater European integration. This fueled a “Eurosceptic” wing within the Conservative Party.
  • The UK’s relationship with the EU continued to be debated throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Certain events like the establishment of the Euro currency fed into fears of the EU’s powers expanding.
  • David Cameron promised an in/out referendum on EU membership in 2013 to quell dissent within his party and dissuade voters from defecting to the anti-EU UKIP party.
  • The referendum was ultimately held in June 2016 after Cameron won re-election. The leave campaign narrowly won with 52% of the vote, shocking many who predicted remain would prevail.
  • Cameron resigned after the loss. Theresa May took over as PM and invoked Article 50 in March 2017, formally notifying the EU of Britain’s intent to withdraw.
  • Difficult negotiations ensued between May and the EU from 2017-2019. Her unpopular withdrawal agreement was voted down multiple times.
  • Boris Johnson replaced May in 2019 and secured changes to her deal, allowing its passage. The UK officially left the EU on January 31, 2020, over 3 years after the referendum.

The path to Brexit was marked by decades of division within Britain. While the referendum and withdrawal settled one debate, the future EU-UK relationship remains filled with uncertainty.

The Brexit Negotiations and Withdrawal Agreements

After the 2016 referendum, difficult and complex negotiations ensued between the UK and EU over the terms of withdrawal and their future relationship.

  • Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty set out a two-year timeline for a member state to leave the EU after notification. This period could be extended if both sides agree.
  • In March 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50, formally beginning the UK’s exit process. The initial withdrawal date was set for March 29, 2019.
  • Negotiations focused on key issues like EU citizen rights, the Northern Ireland border, the divorce bill, and the transition period. There was immense debate within the UK Parliament and public.
  • In November 2018, May and the EU announced a draft withdrawal agreement. It covered the divorce bill, citizen rights, and a 21-month transition period. But the Northern Ireland backstop was heavily disputed.
  • The UK Parliament rejected May’s proposed deal three times between January and March 2019, leading her to eventually resign as Conservative leader and PM.
  • Boris Johnson replaced May in July 2019. He secured changes to the backstop and an updated deal with the EU in October 2019.
  • The UK Parliament finally approved the withdrawal agreement bill in late 2019. The UK left the EU on January 31, 2020 and entered a 11-month transition period while negotiating a trade deal.

The long road to an approved withdrawal agreement revealed the deep divisions within British politics. Compromises were required to deliver Brexit while minimizing economic damage.

The Impact and Consequences of Brexit So Far

While the UK formally left the EU in January 2020, the full impacts of Brexit will take time to materialize and are still developing. Some initial consequences have already been observed.

  • Economic Impact: The UK economy slowed after the 2016 vote and faced inflation and supply chain issues. However, it has recovered better than expected overall. Trade and business adjustments continue during the transition period.
  • New UK-EU Trade Deal: The Trade and Cooperation Agreement was signed on December 24, 2020 between the UK and EU. It took effect on January 1, 2021 after the transition period ended, with key provisions for zero tariffs and no quotas on goods traded.
  • Northern Ireland Border Dispute: The Northern Ireland Protocol has caused ongoing tensions, with the UK trying to rewrite parts of the deal it agreed to. This jeopardizes relations with the EU.
  • Immigration Policy Changes: The UK has ended freedom of movement from the EU, implementing a new points-based immigration system. This will have long-term economic and social impacts.
  • Loss of EU Citizenship Rights: British citizens no longer have EU citizenship rights like being able to easily work, study and live across Europe. The reciprocity principle applies.

The true fallout of Brexit remains to be seen. The COVID-19 pandemic also makes it harder to isolate the impacts. Ongoing negotiations and policy changes will unfold gradually in the coming years.

The Post-Brexit Relationship Between the UK and EU

While the UK has formally exited the EU, the long-term relationship between the two entities remains complex and uncertain. Some key aspects include:

  • Diplomatic Relations: There is ongoing tension between the UK and EU around issues like the Northern Ireland Protocol. However, some cooperation continues in areas of mutual interest like security.
  • Alignment with EU Standards: The UK seeks divergence in areas like financial services to undercut EU rules. But the EU pushes for level playing field provisions. Ongoing disputes are likely.
  • Territorial Issues: The UK and EU still have disagreements over Gibraltar’s status. Northern Ireland’s border also remains contentious under the Protocol.
  • Trade and the Economy: The TCA ensures tariff-free trade for goods. But services trade faces new barriers. The UK risks higher costs if diverging regulations curb market access.
  • EU Programs and Agencies: The UK has lost influence in bodies like Europol, but wants selective participation in initiatives like Horizon Europe research funding.
  • Citizens’ Rights: Expat protections are guaranteed, but freedom of movement ended. Travel and residency rules create new hurdles for UK and EU citizens.

Navigating this complex post-Brexit landscape will require extensive UK-EU cooperation. But tensions persist around sovereignty versus integration.

The Future of Brexit

While Brexit is now reality, its long-term impacts and evolution remain highly uncertain as the UK charts its new course outside the EU.

  • Economic Impacts: More time is needed to gauge Brexit’s full economic consequences. Leaving the single market and customs union may gradually curb UK growth and trade.
  • Further Trade Deals: The UK is seeking new FTAs with major economies like the US and India. But deals could take years and may not offset leaving the EU.
  • Second Referendum: There have been calls from pro-EU groups for a new vote to rejoin the EU. But so far, this does not seem likely given resistance from the government.
  • Change in Government: A different ruling party in future could take a softer stance on Brexit and seek closer EU ties. But rejoining seems improbable for now.
  • Scotland Independence: Brexit has fueled Scotland’s independence movement given most Scots voted to remain. If Scotland leaves the UK, it may quickly rejoin the EU.
  • Evolution of EU-UK Ties: The relationship will likely go through ups and downs. Partial reconciliation may eventually occur, but full reintegration looks doubtful currently.

Predicting Brexit’s long-term outcome is extremely difficult given the complex dynamics involved. Flexibility from both the UK and EU will shape future relations.

Persisting Divisions and Debates Around Brexit

Despite the withdrawal process being completed, Brexit continues to be an incredibly divisive issue within British politics and society. Key areas of ongoing contention include:

  • Political Parties: The Conservatives push for a hard Brexit and distance from the EU. Labour is torn between its pro-Brexit working-class voters versus younger pro-EU members. Deep rifts remain.
  • Immigration Concerns: Reclaiming border control was a driving force for many pro-Brexit voters. Yet public views on immigration policy paths differ vastly, causing disputes.
  • Sovereignty vs. Cooperation: Weighing notions of independence against the benefits of integration with Europe remains hotly contested ideologically. These dueling perspectives fuel opposing stances.
  • Economic Costs vs. Autonomy: There are fervent disagreements around whether Brexit’s hit to economic growth is worth regaining self-determination. Positions vary across the UK’s countries and regions.
  • Global Role: What shape Britain’s relationships beyond just the EU should take is debated. Europhiles advocate for close EU ties, while others push for a global Britain unencumbered by Europe.

Bridging these divides will be an ongoing challenge. As the post-Brexit landscape evolves, tradeoffs and unexpected outcomes could perpetuate or reshape these schisms.


Brexit represents a pivotal moment in the UK’s history that will reshape its economy, global standing, and relationship with Europe for decades to come. The narrow 2016 vote set into motion a turbulent withdrawal process that revealed deep fissures within British society. While the short-term impacts are starting to unfold, the long-term consequences are still highly uncertain. Ongoing disputes around trade frictions, immigration policy, and UK unity will continue to divide public opinion.

Brexit demonstrates the difficulties of extricating a nation from a bloc as economically and socially integrated as the EU. The UK will need to balance pragmatism, sovereignty, growth, and cooperation in navigating its post-Brexit trajectory. Some may hope for the reversal of Brexit, but the die has largely cast its fate. Leaders on both sides must now manage this new reality judiciously to minimize disruptions and forge a functional new relationship between the UK and the EU.

Capturing Brexit Complexity on a Brexit T-Shirt

The artist behind the “Brexit T-Shirt” design brilliantly encapsulates the complicated emotions and identity crisis Brexit has unleashed within the UK. By depicting a face wrapped in a map of London, it conveys the silence and suppression many British citizens felt around the chaotic Brexit process.

The tangled binding represents how trapped and restricted many feel by Brexit’s limbo state. The muffled mouth illustrates the lack of voice and agency people have despite this momentous decision profoundly impacting lives. It highlights the way Brexit has stifled discourse rather than promoting constructive dialogues.

This simple but profound t-shirt design encapsulates the complex Brexit saga in one symbolic image. For those seeking to highlight its damaging effects on British society and democracy, it serves as a powerful conversation starter.

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Additional information

Weight 154 g

News On T-Shirt


This t-shirt feels soft and light, with just the right amount of stretch. It's comfortable and the unisex cut is flattering for both men and women.
• Solid colors are 100% combed and ring-spun cotton
• Ash color is 99% combed and ring-spun cotton, 1% polyester
• Heather colors are 52% combed and ring-spun cotton, 48% polyester
• Athletic and Black Heather are 90% combed and ring-spun cotton, 10% polyester
• Heather Prism colors are 99% combed and ring-spun cotton, 1% polyester
• Fabric weight: 4.2 oz/y² (142 g/m²)
• Pre-shrunk fabric
• 30 single
• Tear-away label
• Shoulder-to-shoulder taping
• Side-seamed
• Blank product sourced from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, or the US
This product is made on demand. No minimums.


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Size Chart

Size guide
Length (inches) 28 29 30 31 32
Width (inches) 18 20 22 24 26
Length (cm) 71 74 76 79 81
Width (cm) 46 51 56 61 66