Today marks the one year countdown to Brexit Day, with Britain set to officially leave the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019. With the leave date edging ever closer it is useful to take a look at where we are now with regards to some of the most important issues.
In efforts to avoid a potentially disastrous cliff-edge come Brexit Day the UK has agreed to a 21 month transition period lasting until December 2020. During this transition period the UK will maintain ties with the EU despite having no voting rights. This transition period will enable British organisations to continue to act as normal whilst providing them with sufficient time to adapt to any changes in legislation.
Perhaps the biggest issues for organisations is the changing rights of over three million EU nationals currently working in the UK, with many being concerned that European workers integral to their business operations would be forced to leave the UK following Brexit. However the British government has confirmed that EU nationals living in the UK for a total of five years as of 29 March 2019 will be able to apply for settled status meaning they will be able to stay and work in the UK indefinitely. Those who do not have five years of residency by this date will also be able to remain in the UK until they reach the five year threshold, after which they too can apply for settled status.
The decision to leave the EU has raised the question over whether the UK should abide by EU laws going forward. In response the Conservative government have introduced the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to Parliament. If the bill is passed, all EU legislation will be immediately enshrined into UK law, after which the government will decide over an undefined period of time which parts to keep, change or remove.
The task of defining the UK’s trade deal with the EU has been spearheaded by Brexit secretary David Davis. Speaking on the matter Theresa May set out her vision of economic prosperity at home, and influence abroad, trading freely with friends and partners across Europe and beyond. Whilst negotiations are ongoing at this stage, a final deal is scheduled to be reached by October when it will be sent for an approval vote in Parliament. There still remains the possibility that any deal may be rejected with Labour reaffirming their stance that any decision must meet their six tests, including maintaining the benefits of the single market and customs union.
It is understandable for organisations to be concerned given the undoubted changes that are set to occur as a result of Brexit. However with just a year to go the picture is sure to become much clearer on a more frequent basis as the government look to set out their definitive their plan for the UK going forward.