As announced earlier this summer, the UK Government last week published the first batch in what is expected to be a series of over 80 Brexit ‘no deal’ technical notices.

The 25 notices released on 23 August contain information about some of the potential impacts of a ‘no deal’ scenario for citizens and businesses in the UK, and identify steps that could be taken to mitigate that impact. Earlier this year, “in view of the considerable uncertainties”, the EU published its own ‘preparedness notices’.

While the UK Government is committed to reaching a negotiated deal with the EU, it too recognises the urgent need to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario. As Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU put it:

“We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality.”

These ‘no deal’ notices are “designed to inform people and businesses in the UK about what they may need to do, if we don’t reach a deal with the EU.”

The possibility of a ‘no deal’

The Secretary of State said at the launch of the notices that he is “confident a good deal is within our sights”, but with the deadline for Brexit talks fast approaching, and the number of still unresolved issues (for example a mutually acceptable ‘backstop’ for the Irish border), a ‘no deal’ outcome is far from impossible.

This ‘no deal’ scenario would mean the UK exiting the EU at 11pm on 29 March 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement (and so no transition period), future trade deal or even an agreed framework for a future relationship. In the event of that ‘hard Brexit’, everything the parties have tentatively agreed to this point (including citizens’ rights and the financial settlement) would become irrelevant.

The ‘no deal’ notices, while preparing for a ‘hard Brexit’, also restate the UK Government’s desire to ensure a “smooth Brexit” in all scenarios.

Content of the ‘no deal’ notices

The various notices cover a wide range of areas, setting out both what the Government would do and also its guidance for businesses and individuals.

The Government’s ‘overview’ document notes that some of the notices set out what temporary steps it would take as of ‘exit day’ to provide continuity and minimise disruption, whether or not the EU reciprocates. Others explain how UK businesses could prepare for EU border controls on trade in a no deal scenario. The document also records the Government’s desire for “technical and operational” discussions with the EU to minimise disruption in key areas such as air travel, export of animals and animal products and transfers of personal data.

More notices will be published in September, but the first batch covers:

We will be producing more sector specific information on these ‘no deal’ papers, so keep an eye on our Brexit Hub.