Theresa May’s Brexit Deal has been voted down by MP’s, meaning we’re getting nearer and nearer to a No Deal Brexit, but what could a No Deal Brexit mean for us?
So, we wake up on March 30th 2019, and the United Kingdom has now left the EU. The idea was to have a deal in place by the time we left, making sure we had a farewell and ease out of the union.
Theresa May announced that she believed that she could get a deal delivered for Britain, and Philip Hammond said that we would be able to strike a deal that will work for us and that will work for them.
But now, none of that’s in place, so what’s really going to happen?
One of the first issues would be, what about the UK border? If there’s no agreement about customs checks there could be significant delays. Lorries that used to be weighed through will probably now require their details checked, which will then require reams and reams of paperwork to be verified before they can go through.
According to the freight industry, that could mean queues of up to 17 miles at the port of Dover, and because of that, there are concerns it could interrupt distributions of food and medication coming into the United Kingdom.
But, the Deputy Mayor of Calais has stated that on the French side, they’ve been planning for a No Deal for over a year, and he announced there will definitely be no holdups at the border in the event of a No Deal.
Now, problems at the port are one thing, but there could be even bigger dilemmas at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There used to be a physical border there with customs checks, but for numerous Irish Nationalists, this was regarded as a symbol of British rule.
All those barriers were removed as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, so for many on both sides of the border, putting up barriers once more would seem like a return to the problems of the past.
But the EU has stated that if there’s a no Brexit deal, there would be no alternative to a hard border, so on top of all the trade delays a No Deal Brexit could create, there’s also the likelihood of renewed violence.
There’s real potential of fear from extremists wanting to exploit the chaos of a possible No Deal Brexit, but then Northern Ireland has seen this time and time again, no matter what the issue is in Northern Ireland, that people do tend to go onto the streets for either a short period of time or a more protracted period of time that they do see some serious public disorder, or indeed terrorist-related violence.
Now, what if you’ve booked a flight to Europe? But then we have a No Deal Brexit. Well, airlines will lose their automatic right to fly between Britain and EU member states. Authorities will have to reach some kind of agreement on air travel so that planes could carry on landing in other countries.
The EU has said that there’s an emergency plan in place to ensure some air routes remain running in the case of a No Deal. So, hopefully, people’s holiday plans won’t be affected, but also, the UK government will try and get a more comprehensive agreement, while EU countries, they still want to fly here, so it’s in their interests to keep the air space open.
But if things don’t go to plan, it could end in plans being grounded, meaning people won’t be able to take off, and they could be left stranded.
Now, what about those of you waking up in the United Kingdom on March 30th who are EU citizens? Well, your status in the United Kingdom will eventually change after a couple of years. Although, that would happen regardless of whether we leave with a deal or not.
That’s because freedom of movement will end, so EU citizens will no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the United Kingdom, also likewise Brits who live in Europe will also lose their guarantee to free healthcare in the EU, and on top of that, the value of your UK state pension could be in danger down the line.
However, before everyone starts panicking, the government has said there’s no need to worry. That’s because if you’re an EU national living in the United Kingdom, you can apply for “settled status” for £65. So, providing you can show that you live in the United Kingdom and that you’re not a security threat, all of your current rights and privileges will be protected, and once you’ve got “settled status” you can carry on living in the United Kingdom just like before.
EU countries are also in the process of announcing comparable schemes for Brits living abroad, but what other differences are people expected to see? Well, perhaps the biggest of a No Deal Brexit is the possible collapse of the economy. The Bank of England believes the value of the pound will fall, the economy will shrink, and that it will be even worse than the 2008 financial crash.
Now that’s founded on a lot of detailed predictions, but remember, they have sometimes been mistaken before.
A large part of our economy is our trading alliance with Europe, and being in the EU means we can buy and sell goods with EU countries without paying tariffs at the border, but if there’s No Deal, Britain would have to treat all countries equally whether they’re in the EU or not, that’s according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
So what does that mean, well, take cabbages for instance, under WTO rules, we could introduce charges on cabbages coming into the United Kingdom from the EU. That means cabbages and other food would get more costly for everyone.
On the other hand, it might be good for the British farming industry because it would make their cabbages more competitive. On the other hand, they could simply set additional charges really low, or even at 0.0 per cent, but because we now have to treat all countries equally, that would apply to the entire world, so on the positive side that might help keep food prices low for consumers, but it would further mean that British farmers might be undercut by competitors from around the world, and don’t forget because of problems at the border, EU countries exporting stuff to the United Kingdom might face additional paperwork and customs checks, and that all costs money, and it’s possible that the consumer would have to foot the bill.
So, will there be anarchy if we leave without a deal? Not necessarily, because the government have been planning this for a while, and it maintains emergency procedures are in position. For example, there’s an airfield near the port of Dover which will be turned into a lorry park, and companies have been selected to run extra ferry services to carry goods, and those measures are intended to reduce gridlock at one of Britain’s bustling ports.
The government has further announced plans to stockpile medicines and fly in essential supplies if needed, but much is contingent on whether the government will be able to strike so-called mini deals on various aspects of life following a No Deal Brexit.
These would be separate stand-alone agreements to solve problems like air traffic and congestion at the borders, but the EU has maintained it will only agree to basic contingency measures, allowing some flights and cross border trade for a short time, and don’t forget that many MP’s, they actually don’t want a No Deal Brexit, and have said they will seek to ensure it doesn’t happen.
In January for example, Labour and Tory MP’s came together to defeat the government, and give MP’s more control in the event of a No Deal Brexit. So, what about the rest of Brexit? Most EU law will simply be transformed into British law, so it’s doubtful that anyone will notice any immediate differences to the way their life is dictated, but there will be one enormous constitutional difference, EU institutions will instantly cease to have any say in how the United Kingdom is controlled, so any ultimate decision will come straight from our parliament.