No-deal Brexit ‘remains a possibility’ despite UK election – FF

Fianna Fáil is warning that an effective ‘no-deal Brexit’ remains a possibility, despite the landslide victory for the Conservative Party in the recent election in the UK.

Current reports out of the UK suggest that, with such a significant majority for Boris Johnson’s party, the UK prime minister is now free to pass the Brexit withdrawal agreement, at which point the UK and EU would enter a ‘transition period’ to negotiate a free trade deal.

This transition period is currently scheduled to end in December 2020.

However, it appears that Johnson will table plans to prevent the December 2020 date from being pushed back further, thereby preventing the transition period from being extended, regardless of whether or not a free trade deal with the EU is agreed.

“The prime minister’s plan to legislate to prevent parliament from extending the transition period beyond the end of December 2020 raises the possibility of a no-deal Brexit,” said Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesperson.

The Co. Mayo deputy expressed her opinion that a free-trade agreement will not be able to be agreed between now and December 2020.

“It is now apparent that the EU and the Government made an omission by not amending the transition period when the revised withdrawal agreement was negotiated in October,” Chambers claimed.

Consequently, the remaining time left of the transition period is far too short to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal.

“Furthermore, while I do not believe that a one or two year extension to the transition period allows for sufficient time to negotiate and ratify an agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK; the fact that the prime minister is ruling out this possibility is a cause of grave concern,” she added.

Chambers highlighted a survey that was released this week by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are not yet prepared for Brexit, with only 42% of businesses surveyed who export to the UK having taken some action to prepare.

“Finalising the withdrawal agreement was only the first hurdle, and the plans by Prime Minister Johnson puts the possibility of a no-deal Brexit firmly back in focus and demonstrates that Brexit is far from over,” Chambers concluded.