Houses of Parilament

Following what was an eventful general election, we now know that the Conservatives and Boris Johnson will be leading the country for the foreseeable future and they look set to deliver on their Brexit promise.

With a large enough majority in the House of Commons, it should now be relatively straightforward for Mr Johnson to get his deal through.

It’s looking increasingly likely that the government will re-introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the piece of law that lays the framework for Brexit happening – on Friday 20th December 2019. The Government’s aim will then be to get the Bill completed in time for the target departure date of 31st January 2020.

Assuming this happens, this is just the first step in a very complicated process. Many things will need to be addressed, but the top priority should surely be for the UK to negotiate a trade deal with the EU, with the emphasis being for the UK to obtain as much access as possible for its goods and services to the EU. 

But the Conservatives have made it very clear that the UK must leave the customs union and single market and end the overall jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Time is short. The EU could take weeks to agree a formal negotiating mandate – all the remaining 27-member states and the European parliament have to be in-agreement. That means formal talks might only begin in March 2020.

These negotiations need to produce a final agreement by the end of June 2020. That is the point at which the UK has to decide whether or not to extend the transition period (by one or two years). But Mr Johnson has ruled out any form of extension. 

If no trade deal has been agreed by the end of June 2020, then the UK faces the prospect of leaving without one at the end of December 2020. If an agreement is however reached, it also has to be ratified before coming into force and that is a process which could take several months. No trade deal of this size and complexity has ever been agreed between the EU and an external country anywhere near as quickly as the time-frame planned here.

Where does this leave us? From a Customs clearance point of view nothing will change until the end of a transition period, which, as you can see from the above, may be extended. However, businesses that currently import goods from the EU will have to do Customs declarations for these goods at the end of the transition period.

Please continue to visit our VARTAN news page for the latest updates. For further guidance on Brexit planning in general, please contact us.