British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fighting COVID-19 in intensive care. At the same time, on both sides of the Brexit talks, key negotiators have either tested positive for the virus or are self isolating with symptoms, including the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his British counterpart, David Frost.

It seems inconceivable that Brexit could still happen on time. After all, Brexit talks have been suspended. All planned EU-UK negotiating rounds have been abandoned, with trade talks effectively put into “deep freeze” as a result of the pandemic. In truth, the negotiations were only at an early stage anyway, with the British government yet to table a comprehensive legal text as the basis of its negotiating position.

Britain officially left the European Union on 31 January. However, Brexit is a process not an event; the country remains in a “transition period” until the end of 2020, meaning it has full access to the EU Single Market (albeit without a seat at the table when decisions are being made). The transition can be extended once by two years, to 31 December 2022, but the deadline to submit for an extension is 30 June (and, in practice, the request for a delay will need to have been submitted well before then so there is time to negotiate the terms of the extension, including how much the UK will need to contribute to the EU budget in order, effectively, to buy Single Market access).

The British government is prohibited by law from asking for an extension. In theory, the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act prevents the UK from requesting a delay. In practice, however, the law can be amended to remove that prohibition (though there are still risks involved, given the tight deadline, the fact the Prime Minister is in intensive care and cabinet may be hesitant to take big decisions without him, and the possibility of Parliament being suspended).

British companies worry they won’t be prepared for a “no deal” Brexit in the midst of a global pandemic and economic crisis. Government, too, is preoccupied with the coronavirus response at the moment, lacking the necessary bandwidth to plan for crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Will Brexit need to be delayed? Are British companies prepared for the possibility of a “no deal” Brexit? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Flickr – (cc) Number 10

15 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Why not? The coronavirus is an excuse for huge loans drowning entire countries in debt and its citizens because helicopter money is out of the question–even though positive money presented the EU with a viable plan. Billionaire agendas and delaying Brexit can just piggyback on the coronavirus with everything else that is going to take advantage of the situation.

  2. avatar

    No ! English voted. They vote must be respected.

  3. avatar

    Please just go already. We have enough headaches.

  4. avatar

    Why? Is democracy not working out for EU?
    I wonder how fast will Itexit, Spanexit, and others follow… probably as soon as the epidemic passes.

  5. avatar

    Brexit happened on 31st January. It’s over.

  6. avatar

    Being as how this whole three ring circus looks like it’s going to implode anyway,what with talk of a europe wide recession and the richer countries having to take on the debts of the poorer ones,the Brits will probably breathe a sigh of relief and think they were lucky to get out when they did.

  7. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    ADVICE on “EU Sciatica”- or how to relive political backaches.

    If in doubt ask Dr. Emily how to fix chronic (EU) sciatica and stop the squabble about a looming “Brexit” inheritance.

    So tragic, ever reoccurring & boring! Please, switch this video off & change focus.

    The bizarre irony- countries with health policies where vaccination against Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is/was compulsory for generations are losing fewer folks to COVID-19 than others. Why?

    Did the EU ever use its advisory health competence to make vaccination against BCG compulsory?

    The BCG World Atlas. Who does & who doesn’t?

  8. avatar

    No! They can’t get a single EU

  9. avatar

    Why? Let them go out. They want it..

  10. avatar

    Brexit has happened, but the deal deadline is looming. If we need more time for negotiations, we need to agree a delay before the end of June. That doesn’t affect Brexit: only the trading relationship we gave with Europe afterwards.

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