3 January 2019

The uncertainty around Brexit has got more and more intense over the past month, following the delay on voting by the House of Commons on Teresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. The delay was because the Prime Minister had expected to suffer a large-scale defeat in the Commons in December when the vote was originally scheduled.  She said that she would return to Brussels to seek legal assurances on the parts of the deal that were causing the most debate, specifically the Irish backstop.  However, the EU leaders have said they are not willing to reopen the negotiations.

The meaningful vote on the deal is now set to take place during the week of 14th January, although it is not clear whether the deal will be any different from the one which has already been negotiated. At the same time, the Government is ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.  It has set aside £2bn in case the UK leaves on 29 March without a deal. Letters will be sent to 140,000 firms updating them on what they should do and 3,500 troops will be put on standby to help government departments.

Legally, the UK will be leaving the EU on 29th March regardless of whether a deal has been agreed under the EU Withdrawal Act. Given the range of options that could be triggered by a Parliamentary defeat on the deal, including a second referendum or a General Election, it also remains possible that the UK simply runs out of time to reach any negotiated settlement.  A no deal situation could therefore be a reality. 

Of course, like everyone else, we want to see this continuing uncertainty resolved so businesses know what to plan for. 

In a very confusing political environment, we are closely monitoring developments around Brexit and we’ll keep you updated as things develop.