Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab presented the first of a series of technical notices telling businesses and citizens how to prepare for a no-deal exit from the EU. The daily lives of British people would see major changes.
Dominic Raab presented the first 25 of about 80 technical notices to be issued over the summer giving an indication of the impact on daily life if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place next March.
In recent weeks, there have been concerns that the country could crash out of the 28-nation bloc without a deal amid infighting within British Prime Minister Theresa May’s divided Conservative government.
Raab said he remained confident the UK and the EU would reach a deal, but said that he was releasing the documents to help people and businesses prepare for any disruption caused in case there is no deal.
The guidelines stated that companies trading with Europe would face new customs and excise rules and require paperwork covering customs and safety declarations. If Britain left without a deal, “the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease,” the guidance said.
What do the papers say?
- Britons will have to pay more to make credit card payments in the EU.
- Businesses on the continent could be cut off from investment banks in London.
- Britons living in the EU could lose access to their UK bank accounts.
- Companies trading with Europe would face new paperwork to cover customs and safety declarations.
- Britain will unilaterally accept some EU rules and give EU financial services firms continued access to the UK market.
- The UK will recognize EU standards for medicines. This means that drugs from the bloc won’t need to be re-tested in the UK.
- Contingency plans to avoid shortages of medicines.
The UK finance ministry also indicated in a letter to an MP published on Thursday that a no-deal exit from the EU could eventually cause a budgetary hole in the region of 80 billion pounds (€89 billion or $102 billion) unless public spending were cut to offset this.
Analysts fear that a failure to agree exit terms would seriously damage the world’s fifth-largest economy as trade with the bloc would be subject to tariffs and regulatory barriers.
‘Plan for every eventuality’
The first 25 papers issued on Thursday cover everything from financial services to nuclear materials. They say “people and businesses should not be alarmed” by the planning.
“We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality,” Raab said. “To do this, we need to have a sensible, responsible and realistic conversation about what a no-deal situation really means in practice.”
The opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said the talks with the EU were “going badly” and the no-deal advice was a sign the government was “moving into panic mode.”
A European Commission spokesman said: “We are working constructively to reach a deal. It is also clear that the withdrawal of the UK is going to lead to disruptions regardless, with a deal or without a deal.”
More papers in coming weeks
The documents failed to address the issue of the Irish border, one of the trickiest parts of the ongoing negotiations. The government said it would “take full account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland” in its no-deal planning.
“If you trade across the land border, you should consider whether you will need advice from the Irish government about preparations you need to make,” the document states in its advice to UK businesses.
Businesses that import and export from the EU have been advised to renegotiate commercial contracts and consider their role in EU supply chains.
Some of the more hard-line Brexit advocates in Parliament have accused the government of trying to scare people into supporting whatever deal it negotiates.
ap,jm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)