The two-year clock starts tomorrow. Brace yourself for even more jargon to fill the airwaves. ‘Brexit’ is about to get real. If we don’t agree a divorce and a trade deal within this timeframe, two things may happen… Either we fall of a “cliff edge” (so-called by the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Remain campaigns) defaulting to WTO trade rules, with no certainty about our future relationship with the EU. Or we negotiate “transitional arrangements” that buy more time to complete and implement final negotiations.
The lack of capacity in the civil service and the dearth of trade negotiation skills is a concern. Whitehall is struggling to balance the needs of every sector of the UK economy to determine our stance and red lines. By contrast the European institutions are designed to wring out ugly political compromises between 28 different countries. They are culturally and practically better prepared for what happens now. A political journalist returning from the Brussels summit told us the attitude to forthcoming negotiations was “we got this.” Is this hubris or not? Only time will tell but Atlas Consultant, Ed Gavaghan looks at who’s who on the other side of the negotiating table in our latest blog.
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