The new EU-UK deal on a revised Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is encouraging. 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.
Yesterday evening, I met Tánaiste Simon Coveney to discuss the implications of the deal for business and next steps. We have reached yet another defining moment in the Brexit process.
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 onto 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 tight, overly optimistic timelines to agree a future trade deal, which do not reflect business realities.
It will be tomorrow before we know if Boris Johnson’s government has the numbers to get the deal across the line. In the meantime, Ibec will continue to examine the implications of the deal for business, keep you updated and represent your interests to relevant stakeholders. Please get in touch with our team of Brexit policy advisers if you have any specific queries and make use of the full range of resources available online at our dedicated Brexit website.
I will be in touch over the coming days as events unfold. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Your views are always welcome.