No Treaty means no Treaty

This week the Bank of England’s interest-rate increase has become another bump on the road to Brexit.  BoE Governor Mark Carney commented that the risk of the UK dropping out of the EU with “no deal” was “uncomfortably high.”  Ripples of vitriolic Brexit Tweets and alike popped up to denounce this as, so called Project Fear Mark 2.

The cautious and conservative, with a small “c”, Carney dared to give an expert assessment of the current situation based on his reasoning and experience.  Such is the tribalism in British politics that anything that gives the merest impression that Brexit might not be wonderful immediately sparks fanatical cries.  Rational thinking in this battleground gets two fingers in the air.

Reading, listening and watching discussions about a “no deal” outcome, I’m struck that so many people talk about it but often they mean something completely different.

Let’s be clear.  The so called “no deal” is in Article 50 paragraph 3[1].  It is that the Treaties we are currently signed up to will cease to apply from one day to the next.   Without a withdrawal agreement in place or an extension to the two-year period we enter the unknown.

Brexiters might be happy with this outcome but that’s a foolish position to take.  Treaties, by their nature, have benefits and obligations for both parties involved.  Take away those in one day and put nothing in their place is most likely to cause mayhem.

Contacts may become void.  Certificates that are mutually recognised are no longer recognised.  Qualifications are questioned.  Massive numbers of technical and administrative processes become uncertain.  Brits working in the EU are put in limbo, as are EU citizens working in the UK.

No Treaty means no Treaty.

Its like pulling up a drawbridge or pulling down the shutters and saying the shop is closed to the 27 Member States of the EU while we refurbish the premises.  Now, I agree such a situation would not last forever as people of goodwill will desperately struggled to find workarounds.  People who don’t have goodwill will try to take advantage of the uncertainty.  It’s likely that the larger organisations will have protective contingency measures in place.  However, SMEs and individuals will be vulnerable and subject to unpredictable costs.

There needs to be a withdrawal agreement in place even if it’s just one page saying; carry on.

[1] 3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

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