Its October 1st, which means we’re 30 days from the Brexit deadline. Boris Johnson is due to announce detailed new plans to help try and secure a deal with the EU. Parliament has passed an act compelling the PM to ask for another extension if a deal cannot be done. Boris repeatedly says that we will be leaving the EU with or without a deal on the 31st of this month come what may. We have no idea if the EU will like what the UK proposes. Meanwhile the UK continues to ramp up no-deal preparations.
So, in short, 30 days out absolutely nothing is certain and I don’t think anyone in the land could tell you what is likely to happen next!
All outcomes possible
As I see it right now, all outcomes remain possible at this point. Boris seems confident that he can do a deal with the EU, although he seemed confident he could prorogue Parliament. There is also an assumption that if Boris does do a deal with the EU, Parliament will be compelled to vote it through. It won’t want to be seen as the place where Brexit was held up once again. But these are strange times so I still wouldn’t count it out.
If the EU decides it doesn’t like the UK’s new plans, its likely to remain steadfast with their original plan, in which case a deal is unlikely to be done between the UK and the EU. In that scenario Boris would be required to ask for an extension. However, there are soundings that the PM and his team know a legal way around that law. The key word there being “legal”. Its caused enough concern for opposition parties to hold joint talks as to how to block that supposed legal path for the PM.
Whilst all this is ongoing, Boris Johnson says on a daily basis that the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal on the 31st. I can only imagine that the legal route he thinks is open to him is watertight and he’ll only reveal his hand at the last minute to prevent opposition parties passing a similar bill like the Benn Act. That, or he presses ahead with leaving, ignoring Parliament. I’m not sure this has been done before in modern times. This would in no uncertain terms set off a chain reaction through UK politics and even in civil society in which no one knows what the damage could be. Many predict trouble in the streets and further division.
There remains talk of a vote of no confidence in the PM. There’s a chance he could lose. Opposition parties have talked about forming a national unity government, but the Lib Dems are opposed to Jeremy Corbyn being interim PM until a General Election has been held. That means if Boris is defeated in a no confidence vote, a General Election is most likely, but only after Parliament believes it has stamped out the threat of no-deal. You still following?
Ultimately, no one can be sure about where we’re headed until things actually happen. We can predict all we like, we’ll all almost certainly be wrong.
Prepare for no-deal
For businesses, uncertainty is the worst thing. Even if it was decided months ago that no-deal was going to be the definite route the UK goverment was going to go down, at least businesses would know the lay of the land and could make whatever preparations they needed.
Last week Michael Gove said in the Commons that many more businesses were ready for a no-deal outcome, although some in the business community raised questions about this statement. I would think that the reality is that more businesses have become no-deal ready since perhaps Theresa May left as PM, but many more businesses are likely to need to get themselves up to speed.
I think given the high degree of uncertainty right now, the prudent thing for any business, including our own in the fenestration industry, is to prepare for a no-deal. If thats the outcome, then at least you’re prepared. If we leave with a deal then its a bonus, or there is still the prospect of the can being kicked down the road once again.
Personally, I think we’re at a stage now where most sides want this done. If Boris came back to Parliament with a deal with the EU, I suspect most if not all Tories, the DUP and maybe a few independent MPs would vote for it. A few Labour MPs in Leave areas may well vote for a deal as well, defying the Labour leadership. If that comes to pass, the deal might well have the numbers in Parliament, not withstanding opposition from the likes of the Lib Dems and the SNP.
However, at this stage, this is all ifs and buts. We’ll simply have to buckle in for the ride!
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