Brexit: Concern, Anxiety, Uncertainty as March 29 Exit Date Gets Closer
With no deal in sight and another expected failed vote for the Draft Agreement, the UK has entered a Twilight Zone land where no one knows what will happen
Photo from Ukrinform – UATV
As the March 29 exit date for the UK to leave the EU, many in Britain are dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing how, if, or even when the UK will actually leave the EU.
This has left lawmakers scrambling to find a solution that is at the very minimum acceptable to as many as possible. However, the EU refuses to change its position on the border in Ireland and that is the main issue for many in the British Parliament. They feel that this could trap the UK in the EU Customs Union indefinitely with no way to get out.
Regardless, Prime Minister Theresa May has scheduled another vote for the Draft Agreement on Tuesday, March 12 after the crushing defeat she faced in January. Whether or not the votes change significantly is still an open debate.
Multiple news outlets are covering the situation. Here is what is going on, according to them.
Reuters writer William James reports that British Prime Minster Theresa May’s Brexit deal faces a heavy defeat in parliament on Tuesday because she has so far secured no major changes from the European Union. This is according to two Brexit supporting factions in the Parliament.
The complete article can be found here.
Just 19 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, May is scrambling, so far unsuccessfully, to secure last-minute changes to an EU exit agreement before a vote on Tuesday on whether to approve the deal.
If she fails, lawmakers are expected to force May to seek a delay to Brexit that some fear could see the 2016 decision to leave the bloc reversed. Others argue that without a delay Britain faces chaos if it leaves without a deal on March 29.
Parliament rejected May’s deal by a record margin in January, prompting the British leader to return to Brussels in search of changes to address the so-called Irish backstop – an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Many British lawmakers object to the policy on the grounds that it could leave Britain subject to EU rules indefinitely and cleave Northern Ireland away from the rest of the country.
But, May’s attempts to get the clause rewritten have so far failed to yield any result, with EU negotiators unwilling to meet her demands, and Britain rejecting a compromise offer.
Meanwhile, at the AP, reporter Jill Lawless has written an in-depth analysis of possible scenarios that could happen depending on Tuesday’s vote. The full article can found here.
Here is a brief synopsis from her article.
Deal déjà vu…
The House of Commons has a second vote scheduled Tuesday on a deal laying out the terms of Britain’s orderly departure from the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May and EU officials agreed to the agreement in December, but UK lawmakers voted 432-202 in January to reject it. To get it approved by March 29, the day set for Brexit, May needs to persuade 116 of them to change their minds, a tough task.
The main sticking point, again, is the Irish border, the so called backstop. The EU refuses to budge as do many British Members of Parliament. This throws a major change from the vote numbers from January into doubt.
If, against the odds, lawmakers approve the deal, a short delay to Brexit may be needed so Parliament can translate the agreement’s terms into British law. But the UK would be on course to leave the EU in the next few months, with a long transition period built in to help people and businesses get used to the new relationship.
May will have delivered on her promise of an orderly Brexit, and snatched an astonishing political victory from the jaws of a widely predicted defeat.
Destination no deal…
If the deal is rejected, lawmakers expect to vote Wednesday, March 13, on whether to abandon efforts to secure an agreement and leave the EU as planned on March 29 without a deal.
That idea is backed by a phalanx of pro-Brexit politicians, who say it would cut Britain free of EU rules and red tape, allowing the country to forge an independent global trade policy.
But economists and businesses fear a so-called “no-deal Brexit” would hammer the economy as tariffs and other trade barriers go up between Britain and the EU, its biggest trading partner.
Delay, delay, delay…
If lawmakers reject leaving the EU without an agreement, they have one choice left: seek more time. A vote scheduled for Thursday, March 14, would decide whether to ask the EU to delay Britain’s departure by up to three months.
This is likely to pass, since politicians on both sides of the debate fear time is running out to secure an orderly Brexit by March 29.
However, an extension requires approval from all 27 remaining EU member countries. They will probably agree, possibly at a March 21-22 summit in Brussels. But they are reluctant to grant a delay that stretches past elections for the EU’s legislature, the European Parliament, in late May.
Whatever the UK Parliament decides, this week will not bring an end to Britain’s Brexit crisis. Both lawmakers and the public remain split between backers of a clean break from the EU and those who favor continuing a close relationship, either through a post-Brexit trade deal or by reversing the decision to leave.
May is unwilling to abandon her hard-won Brexit agreement and might try to put it to Parliament a third time, especially if she loses by a small margin on Tuesday. But some lawmakers want her to have Parliament consider different forms of Brexit to see if there is a majority for any course of action.
And anti-Brexit campaigners haven’t abandoned efforts to secure a new referendum on whether to remain in the EU. The government opposes the idea, which at the moment also lacks majority support in Parliament.
But that could change if the political paralysis drags on. The Labour Party has said it would support a second referendum if other options were exhausted.
In a different AP article by reporter Gregory Katz, he reports that Brexit backers are telling May not to delay the date to leave the EU, deal or no deal. The full article can be found here.
Two prominent Brexit backers are warning Prime Minister Theresa May not to seek a delay to Britain’s scheduled March 29 departure from the European Union if her withdrawal deal is rejected Tuesday.
Conservative Party lawmaker Steve Baker and Democratic Unionist deputy leader Nigel Dodds wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that prolonging the Brexit process rather than making a clean break would lead to “political calamity.”
The two said slowing Britain’s departure would mean a “costly delay” for British businesses and irreparable damage to public trust in politics.
Brexiteers who are ready to embrace a “no-deal” Brexit if no agreement is approved by Britain’s Parliament worry that a possible vote this week to seek an extension of the talks will eventually lead to a softening or cancellation of Brexit plans.
The prospect of another defeat of the Draft Agreement has all sides in the Brexit conflict jockeying for position.
Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford said Sunday that his party will put forward an amendment giving it the authority to hold another independence referendum if Britain does leave the EU.
The Scottish party is firmly opposed to Brexit, and its leaders point out that Scotland’s population voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in a 2014 vote, but its leaders have complained bitterly that it is being dragged out of the EU against its will.
Washington Post reporters Karla Adams and William Booth took a deep look into how Brexit has been affecting businesses in the UK. The reporters said the the uncertainty has been affecting business in a myriad of ways from companies just packing up and moving operation to the EU to stockpiling physical goods and raw materials with the expectation of delays at the border as Customs rules come back into force once the UK leaves the EU.
Other companies, especially smaller ones, are taking a wait and see attitude as they try to keep things running as best they can as they await whatever the British government does regarding actually leaving, or not leaving, or delaying the exit.
The full article can be found here.
Britain is set to leave the European Union in less than three weeks, and it’s still not yet clear how it will exit, or whether its departure will be delayed, or if it will leave at all. From the board rooms to the factory floors, there is consensus: This is no way to treat the world’s fifth-largest economy.
The nail-biting final days have triggered anxiety and division across Britain. But the complete incertitude is especially mind-boggling for British businesses.
Companies have been forced to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on contingency planning. Others have had to cut jobs or delay expansions or idle production. Some are already giving up on Britain and moving their operations elsewhere.
Britain’s auto-manufacturing industry is in a swoon, with weekly announcements of job cuts at Jaguar, Honda and Vauxhall. The distress is related to an economic slowdown in China and Europe’s move away from diesel. But the absence of clarity on Brexit is also playing a role.
In some ways, so far, Brexit has been less bad for the British economy and British business than mainstream economists had anticipated. The pound has slid but hasn’t crashed. The gross domestic product managed a 1.4 percent rise in 2018, the weakest since the financial meltdown of 2008, but not the recession some had forecast.
For modern businesses, operating in the lean, just-in-time delivery ecosystem, the uncertainty has been taxing.
Some high-profile companies decided soon after the 2016 referendum to begin shifting their European headquarters out of London. They hoped to avoid potential tax issues (something electronics company Panasonic cited), or they feared data flow disruptions (of obvious concern to tech companies), or they wanted to secure EU market access (a particular worry in the financial sector).
Although London is expected to maintain its claim as the financial capital of Europe, the accounting firm EY estimated in January that financial services companies had moved $1 trillion in assets to other European cities.
Bank of America has already packed up and decamped to Dublin, Ireland and has no plans to move back to the UK even if they decide at the last minute to stay in the EU.
Those firms that thought they’d stick it out, or that don’t have the sort of business that can pick up and move, are now in frantic contingency-planning mode as they wait to see whether Brexit might sort itself out or whether things are about to get really bad.
Almost all businesses in Britain are united against a no-deal Brexit. A coalition representing 190,000 companies has warned that crashing out would be “an unparalleled act of self-harm.”
Airbus employs more than 14,000 people in Britain and countless more in its supply chain. However, this alone does not guarantee that manufacturing for Airbus will stay in the UK. Airbus manufactures all of its plane wings at a factory in Wales.
Meanwhile, British manufacturers are stockpiling raw materials at a record pace, according to research from IHS Markit/CIPS, which tracks the sector. Supermarket chains have ordered extra food. Drug companies are booking space on charter planes so they can fly in vital medicines.
Cross-border transportation companies have been among the most vocal about their fears over what happens next.
Among the open questions is whether truckers crossing the English Channel could suddenly be required to hand over customs documents, a dramatic change that would create complications and delays.
At the New York Times, reporter Stephen Castle looks into how Brexit has affected relationships between people. Many family, friend and business relationships have been frayed or completely destroyed because of how they voted for Brexit.
The full article can be found here.
Martin Bradford played guitar at a local venue for the better part of a decade, but he avoids the place now because performing there would mean working with its sound engineer.
And that would not end well.
Sipping a pint in a riverside pub, Mr. Bradford recalls how he casually mentioned his vote to leave the European Union and instantly lost a friend.
“‘You’ve taken my retirement away,’” Mr. Bradford was told, the reasoning being that the sound engineer hoped to move to another European Union country, a right that Brexit could threaten.
“Once that conversation had happened there was no going back,” said Mr. Bradford, who also avoids members of his old band after some posted comments on social media that, he said, “painted the people who voted leave as racists, bigots, evil, stupid.”
Friendships lost or relationships broken by Brexit have been bemoaned by politicians, featured in newspaper advice columns and spawned novels and at least one play.
According to one survey, more than a third of those who wish to remain in the European Union would be upset if a close relative married a strong leave supporter, suggesting that Brexit has morphed into a clash of values.
In the aftermath of the referendum, Relate, a counseling service, said that a fifth of the 300 relationship support practitioners surveyed had worked with clients who argued over Brexit. And analysts say Britons are increasingly likely to define themselves in relation to Brexit, rather than allegiance to a political party, a dividing line noticed by psychotherapists too.
Of course, many Britons have tuned out, bored by endless and incomprehensible Brexit twists in Parliament.
Some experts worry that, rather than open feuding, a chilly silence has descended across parts of a population that is often adept at avoiding confrontations.