Cascade Commentary

Brexit – What happens next?

December 2019

Now that Boris Johnson has secured a majority for the Conservative party, he must now deliver on his promise to “Get Brexit Done”. A majority of 80 MPs means that Johnson has the backing of parliament to pass legislation required to implement the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) as per his withdrawal agreement ahead of the 31st January 2020 deadline.

Initially, Johnson was required to seek formal parliamentary approval for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. This occurred in the House of Commons on 20th December 2019 where legislation required for take the UK out of the EU was approved with a historic 124 majority. This bill triggers the UK to officially leave the EU and now must pass through the House of Lords in the new year.

After 47 years of membership, the UK will now leave the EU by 31st January 2020. Ratification will be sought at both the UK and EU Parliaments, where support is expected without difficulty. Once the bill has been formally approved, negotiations will be kickstarted to agree the shape of the future trading agreement between the UK and the remaining bloc. The present deadline is for these negotiations to be completed and delivered by December 2020.

The EU has said that it intends to have its mandate for negotiations agreed by the 1st March 2020 following sign-off at the bloc’s February 2020 meeting. This provides the European Commission with the legal basis on which it will negotiate its future relationsip with the UK government.

In anticipation of these talks, representatives from both the UK and EU have emphasised the importance of a quota-free, tariff-free trade agreement for goods in any deal agreed.

It is anticipated that a summit will be held in June 2020, six months ahead of the 31st December 2020 deadline. Should any extension be required, Boris Johnson must request this by the end of June 2020, however Johnson has made it clear that he and his cabinet have no intention to delay negotiations any further.

Once the summit has been held, it is expected that draft legislation will be prepared for presentation to parliament. Any deal tabled must be agreed by 26th November 2020 so as to reach formal ratification by 31st December 2020. Should this not occur, and no extension have been applied for or agreed, then both parties will be rendered to trading with one another as per World Trade Organisation rules.

Should an extension be applied for and agreed then the final date for all negotiations to be completed is set at 31st December 2022. It is expected that while Johnson will not request an extension for the core discussion, many items will require longer than 12 months to reach agreement and so it is expected that an extension of some sort will be granted.

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