Detail of the technical notices makes clear that avoiding much of the potentially significant disruption of a no deal outcome will require good faith, cooperation and pragmatism from both sides of the English Channel
Today, the UK Government has stepped up its engagement with stakeholders and the wider public with the publication of 25 technical notices on its preparations for a 'no deal' Brexit. While Dominic Raab MP was at pains to stress that the UK wants and expects to reach a good agreement with the EU, these notices re-emphasise that a no-deal exit next March is a real possibility for which contingency plans need to be made, and in some cases put into action now or very soon. This is consistent with what we are hearing from many businesses in recent weeks.
The notices purport to provide 'pragmatic and practical' guidance on how the Government and businesses should seek to mitigate the potential impact of the UK withdrawing from the EU without a deal. This first batch of notices, on topics ranging from pharmaceutical batch testing, financial services and support for businesses at the UK-EU border, are due to be followed by a further 50 or so notices before the end of September.
The Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, in his speech announcing the notices, sought to dispel wilder claims in the press about the Government's plans, for example in relation to the military being used to ensure the security of food supplies. However, the detail of the technical notices makes clear that avoiding much of the potentially significant disruption of a no deal outcome will require good faith, cooperation and pragmatism from both sides of the English Channel.
As Mr Raab said in his speech, it is imperative that businesses continue to engage with the Government's no-deal preparations, as well as to monitor the on-going negotiations, in order to ensure that they are well prepared for any eventuality. This will involve keeping their own contingency plans under review in light of the Government's guidance to stakeholders set out in the notices.
The notices are just part of the Government's wider preparations, which also include readying the UK's legislative framework for Brexit via the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. The Government has already published a number of statutory instruments (SIs), intended to make the necessary changes to UK law in the event that EU law ceases to apply in March 2019. With between 800 to 1,000 SIs expected, covering all aspects of law and regulation in the UK and each making potentially material changes to the legal and regulatory environment relevant to UK plc, businesses will need to be more vigilant than ever to identify potential legislative changes that matter to them and be ready to engage with Government, if necessary.