Brexit Tracker: October 2019

Update 18 October: We have reached yet another defining moment in the Brexit process. A new EU-UK deal on a revised Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has just been agreed. If ratified, it will provide the basis for an orderly UK exit and avoid a profoundly disruptive no-deal cliff edge at the end of the month.

The agreement has a lot to commend it, not least relative to the catastrophic implications of a ‘no-deal’. It includes far-reaching and vital provisions to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the Common Travel Area, provides a status quo transition period and allows talks to move on to the future EU-UK relationship.

However, Brexit was always an exercise in damage limitation. The new deal goes some distance toward mitigating the potential risks to the all-island economy and supply chains, but we will inevitably end up in a worse place than where we are now.

The deal means Northern Ireland will be subject to preferential, but potentially complex, new customs arrangements. Meanwhile, the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship is far less ambitious than Theresa May’s previous deal. This could have significant negative economic implications in due course. We have also been left burdened with short, overly-optimistic timelines to agree a future trade deal, which do not reflect business realities.

We will shortly publish a full updated tracker that looks at the provisions of the new Withdrawal Agreement across a range of key business-related headings.