Opinion: What does “no deal” mean?

Over the last year or so, Brexit has thrown up a whole new vocabulary. “Brexiteer”, “remoaner”,  and of course, “Brexit” itself are now a commonly used in conversation. But a phrase that has been thrown around and has incited worry among Brexiteers and Remoaners alike is the idea of “no deal”.

As Germany today led a call for a tougher line against Britain as we enter the next round of Brexit negotiations, the likelihood of the EU allowing us to leave with a deal that benefits us looks less likely than ever.

While our negotiators in Brussels insist that “no deal would be better than a bad deal” for the UK, just how realistic is this?

At the moment, a lot of what’s going to happen once we leave is just speculation, as no one can really predict the effects of such a huge political change. One thing is certain though; leaving the EU in 2019 with no deal would impact a number of aspects of British life.

In trade, no deal would mean World Trade Organisation tariffs would apply on exports and imports to and from the EU, which could be a big shock to businesses. The taxes on trade vary from 2% right up to 40% depending on the industry, with things like agriculture and the car industry being hit hardest.

On the flipside, leaving with no deal could save the UK a lot of money. Legally, we wouldn’t be obliged to pay an exit fee unless one was negotiated, saving the government millions. This would leave the EU out of pocket and would pretty much guarantee our relationship with the rest of Europe would become even more strained. EU bodies that regulate things like British aviation and the pharmaceutical industry would no longer apply in the case of no deal, this could create chaos until British-run regulators were put in place. However, both of these outcomes are very unlikely, unless our government decides to be stubborn and frankly foolish, and puts no plans in place between now and the day of our exit.

One of the biggest and most sensitive Brexit related subjects is the rights of EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in Europe. While both the EU and UK government insist these individuals aren’t considered to be “pawns” in the chess game of Brexit, without a deal, they could essentially be left in limbo. Again, the government should be able to sort this out in the two years before we leave, and it is unlikely they will be left in the lurch.

It might seem obvious but overall, some sort of deal would be better than no deal, but no deal wouldn’t be the end of the world. Part of the process of Brexit is ensuring that we somehow come out intact, but from the other side the EU doesn’t want other European countries thinking leaving would be beneficial to them. Leaving the EU and becoming an “independent nation” again means that we will need to negotiate our own trade deals, and so alienating our European neighbours during our exit could be a suicidal move by the government.

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