It’s been a tumultuous three years since the UK public voted to leave the European Union. Brexit was originally scheduled for 29 March 2019 and we worked for many months before then with clients who had significant import or export activities to plan for any possible No-deal scenario.
The general view was that a Withdrawal Agreement would be finalised or that Brexit would be delayed. With so little apparent preparation at that time by the Government for a No-deal Brexit, the most common solution was to ensure additional levels of stock were warehoused in convenient locations to avoid any disruption at ports in the weeks following 29 March 2019.
Brexit Day was of course delayed and we saw extraordinary events in the House of Commons as Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was voted down three times, eventually by an historic margin. Since Boris Johnson’s elevation to the Premiership, the political temperature in favour of a No-deal (if necessary) has increased significantly with the current UK Government insisting we will leave the EU at the end of October 2019.
Despite all the noise, there is still a real possibility that some kind of compromise on the Northern Ireland Back Stop will be reached to persuade the House of Commons to ratify a revised Withdrawal Agreement.
This is unlikely to be by way of an actual Free Trade Agreement which would make the Back Stop redundant, as Chancellor Merkel ironically suggested following her meeting with Mr Johnson on 21 August 2019. But even if no revised solution is forthcoming, it is conceivable that both the UK and EU could make unilateral declarations ahead of 31 October 2019 to implement a de facto transition arrangement, despite scowls from constitutional experts.
Of course, no-one can be sure what will happen. We’ve been talking to clients over recent weeks who now say they see a No-deal Brexit as more likely than ever before. Many have already prepared, some will actually benefit.
The No-Deal Default
As things stand at the start of September 2019, the UK will leave the European Union without a deal on 31st October 2019.
There has been talk in Parliament about securing a sufficient number of MPs to confirm to HM The Queen that Boris Johnson no longer has the confidence of Parliament and she should appoint a senior Parliamentarian as Prime Minister, such as Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman. This would be aimed at circumventing the timetable for confidence votes against the Government under the Fixed-term Parliament Act 2011. These are testing times for the UK’s mostly unwritten constitution. The Queen has recently approved the Prime Minister’s request to suspend Parliament between 9th – 13th September ahead of a formal reopening and Queen’s Speech on 14th October. The situation remains very fluid.
How can you prepare?
For those who have recently started to wrestle with No-deal planning, we have prepared a risk assessment tool to either use internally, or to ask us to make an initial assessment of the likely impact of a No-deal Brexit on your business.
Contact our team today to find out more – email@example.com