53 Days Until Brexit. What Will Happen Then?

By Jonathan Spira on 4 February 2019
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If there’s one thing the topic of Brexit has done, it has been in uniting the British people, not that there is a consensus by any means.

The British people are united in that practically everyone has a strong opinion about Brexit, be it in favor of staying in the European Union or exiting. Strong may, however, be an understatement. Practically everyone has an opinion on, for example, Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement or the northern Irish backstop.

One thing is clear: With just over 53 days before the scheduled withdrawal date, the U.K. government doesn’t have an agreement on the rules, conditions, and terms of the exit that will replace almost half a century of frictionless trade and relations that were a consequence of EU membership.

Business leaders have expressed grave concerns over economic growth and foreign investment should Britain crash out of the bloc without a deal in place.

Things are so bad in the United Kingdom that, in a speech on January 25, Queen Elizabeth II – who must remain neutral on political matters (a practice effectively begun when her ancestor King Charles I literally lost his head in 1649 following the English Civil War with Parliament) – weighed in on Brexit, at least going so far as to make a plea for “respecting different points of view” and “coming together to seek out the common ground.”

The options are, or better put, were simple. Stay in the European Union – or leave. Since, with a turnout of 72%, the citizenry voted 52% to 48% to leave, the options now are leave in a negotiated fashion or simply leave and let the chips fall as they may, the latter known as a “hard” Brexit.

The newspapers are full of reports of citizens stockpiling medications, groceries, and other supplies. Companies are stockpiling parts used to manufacture a variety of products and some have taken on extra warehouses and sped up the movement of their supply chains.

Regardless of how Brexit occurs, some of the damage cannot be undone. Nissan canceled plans to make its new X-Trail SUV in northern England amidst continued uncertainty over the country’s future relationship with the European Union. Nissan is not alone. BMW and Jaguar-Land Rover plan to idle their factories in the days right after Brexit, hoping to preclude the chaos that could occur.

Regardless of the outcome, Sony will be relocating its EU headquarters from London to the Netherlands, a move announced in January.

Finally, if you are thinking of visiting the United Kingdom around the end of March, consider this: The Sunday Times reported earlier this week that the Queen and other senior royals will be evacuated in the event of riots in London following Brexit. The plans were originally drawn up during the Cold War, to be activated in the event of an attack by the Soviet Union.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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