Brexit: Clock Is Ticking for a Disunited Kingdom

It has been two years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. However, even if some advances have been made these past months, there is still neither agreement nor a completed draft on the divorce conditions.  

In June 2016, after a breathtaking political miscalculation from ex-Prime Minister Cameron, the UK held a referendum leading the kingdom to divorce with Europe. But the question was what type of divorce to choose from between a hard and a soft one.

Both the UK and the EU are expected to finalize terms in November as the spilt will become effective next March 29. However, they will find it hard to do; negotiations have been painfully long, and despite some advances, several unclear points remain. They were initially expected to resolve these by June, but finally defined an EU summit beginning October 18 as a deadline.

UK diplomats have complained that Michel Barnier, the Head EU negotiator of the Brexit, is less available than expected, saying that his promises were nothing if not “hyperbole”.

Brexit is a Janus issue for the UK. The first concern is economic, dealing with borders, free exchange, and tourism. Indeed, the main disadvantage for the Kingdom will be a slowdown in national growth. New tarrifs will raise the cost of exports to the island, making British products more expensive than those of their EU competitors. On the other hand, prices of imports will also increase, creating inflation, even shortage. Last but not least, the City, the financial heart of the UK, would also lose its leadership or at best, face a light decrease.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are also high on the list of concerns. How to guarantee there will never be a hard border between the UK province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland? Scotland is more and more Europhile and may leave the United Kingdom. That is why the UK has to work hard on the divorce conditions, just to avoid becoming a disunited kingdom.

By Antoine Dewaest

Photo: Reuters


30 August 2018 14:10