A short post covering developments during the week of the Conservative Conference in Manchester - has anything changed?
We have already investigated the likelihood of Brexit (inevitable), May's Florence speech (first effort to define what the UK Government wants to achieve) and the planning implications for businesses of any transitional arrangements (businesses can't rely on it).
This week provided developments in three areas that we have already flagged as important to track.
The UK Government ability to negotiate and implement
We know the UK Government and Prime Minister is weakened since the general election and split between Brexit ideological lines. This week has shown May under further pressure because of a disastrous conference. In addition to Boris Johnson's attempts to undermine the Government, the week ended with open discussion of a leadership contest.
How this plays out is a matter for conjecture - but none of the possible scenarios (May batling on weakened, May being replaced by whom?, a general election won by Labour) bode well for the Government being able to develop and implement an agreement with the EU.
It should be noted that neither May's or Johnson's speeches added anything new about Brexit.
Finally, there is now an open war between the Brexit Department (DExEU) and the “Europe Unit” in Downing Street covering personnel/resources and influence/role - clearly unhelpful.
Will the EU agree to a Transition Period? When will we have certainty about it?
As predicted we now know that Germany, France and other members of the EU have not agreed to start discussions on any transitional arrangements despite the EU negotiators recommending it. There is talk of the EU starting an internal scoping exercise on any Transition arrangements as the first step - really this just adds to the uncertainty!
This reinforces my point that we will not have certainty of the scope of any transition period until late 2018 at the very earliest (if at all) - too late for businesses Brexit planning.
"No Deal" and the WTO
We know that the EU and UK have agreed a methodology to split the WTO quotas (these have to be divided between the EU and the UK). The next step is for the EU and UK to jointly seek agreement with the 160 odd WTO member countries - as I hinted before this will be problematic and indeed we now know that the USA and other agricultural exporting countries have indicated that they will not support the UK and EU.
Summary - not such a great week!
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