Chamber Blog


BREXIT – So where are we now?

The Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech was certainly the most realistic we have heard to date, but the problem was that it was not realistic enough and we need to get more real before it is too late. I think that it is now accepted that political rhetoric does not stand up to scrutiny and, we are concerned that the aspirational Government Brexit Policy is undeliverable because it contains incompatible demands. 

The PM has all but accepted that leaving the EU entails difficult choices and unavoidable harm – The sub-text of her speech inferred that the UK would be better off staying in the EU.  It is our job as Business Organisations, particularly in the Border regions, to ensure that our businesses don’t become the victims of unintended consequences or collateral damage because of competing and conflicting government Brexit policy that just cannot be delivered.

In relation to the Irish Border both membership of the CU/SM are required to have a fully open border that requires no infrastructure. If the UK are leaving the CU/SM there will have to be a border, so the question is where? Our comfort here in the North West has to be that we got a clear and unequivocal acknowledgement that the UK has a responsibility to find a solution to the border issue and the PM has clearly stated that “it would be unacceptable to go back to a hard border in Northern Ireland."

The difficulty however is that the devil is in the detail and we are still no wiser on how an Open Border can be achieved.  It is, however, a comfort that a default position is in place should an agreement not be reached within the overall context of the negotiations. The legal text on the draft withdrawal agreement gives surety that the EU & UK will ensure an open border should no other solutions be found.

The EU is determined to defend its EU Ecosystem and a Pick and Mix approach by the UK Government on that structure will not be acceptable.  In relation to the Irish Border I remain sceptical how leaving the CU & SM is compatible with maintaining an Open Border. Meanwhile uncertainty reigns… we await thenext round of speeches and EVEN more clarifications…