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Brexit in a page - what do I need to know? | 9 April 2020

Brexit expert Jacqui Bickerton summarises all you need to know about Brexit.

Weekly reflection

Key dates

April 2020 Trade deal negotiations to resume

June 2020 Final date for the UK to request an extension to the transition period

June 2020 EU Summit to assess the progress of talks

26 November 2020 End date for the trade deal to be finalised

31 December 2020 End of the transition period

  • During the current pandemic there is little wonder that everything beyond dealing with Coronavirus has been placed on the back burner. However, the “Brexit time clock” is ticking. Following the suspension of trade negotiations in March, David Frost has confirmed that he will be contacting Michel Barnier next week to discuss a timetable for negotiations during April and May 2020 although it has not been revealed by the UK Government precisely what topics will be on the agenda.
  • Whilst the UK Government have, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, insisted that they would not extend the transition period beyond 31 December 2020, public opinion is mounting against this stance. Pollsters, JL Partners, have revealed that only 19% of those surveyed support the current transition period. An extension of 6 or 12 months is favoured by 67% of those polled. We ought not to forget that if a trade deal is not secured then the UK will leave the EU transition period onto WTO rules and the associated tariffs.
  • The challenges against Brexit in its many forms continue. A group of pro-EU campaigners are crowd funding to take their case to the European Court of Justice. The group, which includes lawyers, argue that the UK Government have “got it wrong” and, irrespective of Brexit, all individuals living in the UK will remain permanent citizens of the EU. They argue that, if this is the case, then UK citizens will have the right to move and work freely within the EU even though the UK is not an EU Member State.
  • The dispute between the UK and EU continues over the EU’s request to open an office in Belfast to ensure the Irish protocol’s implementation is properly undertaken. The EU’s initial written request to the UK many months ago was refused. The EU have since written again asking for a reconsideration by the UK Government. During a telephone conference this week between the EU and UK Joint Committee overseeing the operation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement the issue arose again. The EU’s offices in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh were all closed when the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. The UK Government are yet to reply formally to the EU’s second request.
  • Meanwhile, due to the continued uncertainty, Revolut, an online bank, has announced its intention to move its Eastern and Central European customers to a Lithuanian business entity for business continuity reasons. Revolut, whilst assuring its clients that their services will continue unhindered, have taken this step as a protective measure in the event that a trade deal is not agreed. The transfer of business to the Lithuanian entity will be completed before the end of the Brexit transition period.
  • Experts have, this week, issued warnings about stock-piling of food should the UK not reach a trade deal with the EU. There have been unprecedented scenes of food and drink panic buying during the initial surge of Coronavirus. However, the head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation, Dominic Goudie has warned that the Brexit impact on the supply chain would be worse than the coronavirus. Specifically, Mr. Goudie said “With the Coronavirus, some drivers are worried that if they drive into another country they could be at risk of infection or the borders could close and they could be stuck there. In a Brexit situation … drivers could get stuck if they do not have the right paperwork or approvals. Some drivers might decide entering the UK is more trouble than its worth”.

To discuss any concerns about how Brexit may impact your business, please contact Jacqui Bickerton or visit our Brexit Hub to find out more. 

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