The UK was scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) on 29th March 2019. Failure to pass Theresa May’s withdrawal deal through Parliament has led to the EU granting a six-month extension – agreed on 11th April 2019 – with a new deadline set for 31st October 2019. Boris Johnson is determined to leave the EU by this deadline and has made it clear his government will not look to delay Brexit further.
What is the Current Situation with Brexit?
Last week was one of the most monumental weeks in the Article 50 process so far, as the UK and EU confirmed a deal had been reached at political level. However, Britain’s fate is now in the hands of the European Union as Boris Johnson lost the parliamentary vote on the confirmed agreement and we now wait for the EU to decide how long to delay Brexit for, although it is believed the EU leaders are split on how long to do this for. A final decision is expected to be made today and what is decided largely determines whether the nation goes to the polls in December.
Tory ministers have since warned Boris Johnson over his bid for a December election that “We could be stuffed like Christmas turkeys” – as labour looks set to back Boris’ call for a snap vote IF the EU insists on a long delay.
What Does the New Deal Include?
Much of what Theresa May negotiated remains:
- It guarantees the rights of EU nationals in the UK
- It commits the UK to paying a £39 billion financial settlement
- It allows for a transition period until the end of 2020 during which the UK would continue to abide by EU rules.
The main differences involve a new protocol for arrangements in Northern Ireland, mostly around customs. Northern Ireland will be in the UK’s custom territory but will, in practice, be an entry point to the EU’s custom zone. This will mean a complex dual tariff regime whereby goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will not be subject to tariffs unless they are “at risk” of moving to the EU thereafter. If they are, these will be charged the EU tariff, while goods entering Northern Ireland from third countries will be subject to the UK tariff.
How Will Brexit Affect Business?
There are still so many unknowns, especially whilst it remains unclear if the UK will leave having signed a withdrawal deal with the EU or not. Either way, Brexit is likely to have an impact on your business in the short and long term – even if you do not trade internationally.
Some of the main areas that will be affected, either directly or as a knock-on effect are:
- International Trade
- Supply Chain
- Customer Base
- Tax and VAT
How Should You Prepare Your Business For Brexit?
With potentially just days to go until we leave the European Union, there are steps you can take to prepare your business:
- Be aware that the current right of free movement for UK nationals and EEA national in the UK is coming to an end
- Understand the settlement scheme for EEA nationals in the UK and the process for applying for settled or pre-settled status
- Recognise that while a transition period has been agreed, this will not apply in a no-deal scenario, and understand the implications of this for your business
- Be aware that UK nationals working in the EEA are expected to have access to equivalent schemes to obtain settled status, provided that a deal is finalised
- Carry out an audit of the workforce to establish which employees are EEA nationals in the UK or British nationals in the EEA.
- Communicate with the workforce on the potential impact of Brexit and support available to employees.
- Consider providing assistance with applications for settled and pre-settled status.
- Be aware that some employees may still wish to apply for permanent residence under the current system.
- Understand the proposals for the post-Brexit immigration regime and how this will impact the organisation.
- Review policies and documents to identify those that may need to be amended as a result of Brexit.
- Identify potential skills gaps and labour shortages and plan how to address these.
- Consider whether or not to take part in lobbying on post-Brexit immigration policy.
- Prepare for HR involvement in strategic decisions on relocation.