It was supposed to be easy. In 2017, Britain’s trade secretary, Liam Fox, said EU-UK trade negotiations would be the “easiest in human history”. His sentiments were shared by Eurosceptic MP John Redwood, who argued after the referendum that getting out should be “quick and easy” because the UK “holds all the cards”. With 365 days to go until Brexit, things look a bit different.
So far, the negotiations have been gruelling (and the future trade deal is unlikely to be concluded either quickly or easily). Progress was made at the European Council back in December 2017, but many of the fine details – including the seemingly intractable Irish border question – remain fuzzy.
We do, however, have a clearer idea about what Brexit will look like in practice (unless everything falls apart at the last minute). In 366 days, things should carry on pretty much as before. The mooted transition deal will mean that Britain will retain access to the Single Market in the interim. The UK will lose its MEPs and its seat at the European Council, but freedom of movement will continue, and Britain will continue to pay into the EU budget. European vessels will continue to fish in British waters.
In other words, the sky (probably) will not fall in. The doom-mongers of “project fear” evidently overdid it. Brexit has not brought about the apocalypse. Britain remains one of the largest economies in the world (though even the government admits it is sliding down the rankings). Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest a mixed picture, with continued GDP growth (albeit sluggish), but with weak consumer spending and wage growth.
What happens after the transition deal expires in 2021 is less clear. Will the negotiations finally have been concluded by then? Or will the transition deal be extended to avoid another cliff-edge scenario? And is everyone who voted for Brexit going to be happy with the eventual outcome?
How is Brexit working out? With 365 days to go, is everything still on track? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!