What a week. The ERG backs a WTO or ‘No Deal’ and then offered the original Irish border plan that David Davis favoured before his resignation and the May Chequers deal emerged.
Chequers is being rubbished by everyone except the UK negotiating team and there seems to be an offer on the table for a free trade deal with the EU. This would effectively solve the Irish problem without the need for a hard border and a continuation of the common travel area agreement currently in place.
There is now talk of a Canada plus deal, which we understand to mean a free trade deal with the EU, plus some agreements on services. Whatever the route, the UK government has stepped on the gas with regard to a ‘no deal’ scenario. Yesterday saw the release of further advice notices taking the total to above 50, with more being released on a daily basis.
Whether this advice will ever be needed is doubtful, but it is certainly evidence of planning on behalf of the UK and has led to further media scare stories of ‘2 million’ Brits rushing to get new passports etc and even the Bank of England Governor adding to the scare mongering.
In effect we now know the answer to many questions in the event of a ‘no deal’. Driving in the EU post Brexit will revert to the old paper card licence, mobile roaming charges will not be reintroduced, and the government assures us that it will work with businesses to ensure as seamless a transition as is possible (many raised eyebrows on that one).
The advice notices detail the staffing and recruitment taking place and significant budget commitments which now appear to point to a real possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario; rather than a negotiating tactic to assure the EU that we are serious about leaving without a deal, unless it’s the right one.
There are suggestions of action that citizens can take ahead of March 2019 to minimise the transition from EU member to ‘third country’; such as exchanging UK drivers licences for one in your host country and vice versa. Easy to do now, but potentially no longer available post March 2019 in a ‘no deal’ scenario.
This got us thinking about the level of ‘no deal’ planning being made by the EU and the 27-member states. We contacted authorities in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus to discuss ‘no deal’ advice for UK citizens and also advice available for local producers exporting to the UK. Our team received the same reply in various forms – ‘Advice? What advice?’
Perhaps there is a lot of planning taking place or perhaps there isn’t. Just maybe it is not the UK that is attempting to move negotiations forward by trying to show its preparedness in the event of a ‘no deal’. Is the real story that the lack of planning within the EU is an acknowledgement by the EU that there is a deal to be done and more importantly that one has to be done by it.