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Brexit Insights


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 Brexit Insights

by Bob Little 



Although the UK voted in the recent referendum to leave the EU, there are a great many things that need to happen before this occurs. These include:


  • Invoking ‘Article 50’, which is the formal way in which the exit process begins. Once the process has started, negotiations have to be concluded within two years. All the indications are that the UK will not invoke Article 50 until early in 2017 at the very earliest. It may well be significantly later than this. This means that the UK will not have actually left the EU until 2019 (or, more likely, 2020). That’s quite a long way away – even in EU project terms. In the meantime, the UK is still a member of the EU – and will be contributing to the EU budget, politics and policies, projects and so on.

  • The constituent countries within the UK need to agree among themselves on a strategy for the EU exit. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain within the EU. Wales and England voted to leave. Scotland objects to the decision to leave the EU and has, consequently, resurrected its demands to leave the UK in order to apply to join the EU as an independent country (in any case, this may well not be allowed by France and Spain because it will set a dangerous precedent for the minority groups within their countries who want to break away and gain independence). The ‘independent Scotland’ issue is a far more serious issue for people in the UK than is the whole ‘EU issue’. Consequently, negotiations between the UK Government and Scotland about the future of the UK are going to take priority. This could delay invoking Article 50 even longer – maybe until 2025. Northern Ireland’s position is even more tricky – since, if the UK leaves the EU, it must reinstitute a border between Northern Ireland and Eire. This raises the whole issue of Irish independence and the claims of Southern Ireland over Northern Ireland. It raises issues which have been largely resolved since the dark days of the ‘troubles’ (since 1967). Very many people, on both sides of the political divide, do not want to re-open this – potentially violent – debate. Wales has been a major recipient of EU money because it is one of the poorest regions in the EU. Without the UK Government agreeing to take over the commitment to support the country in the way that the EU has supported it, there will be very dark economic days for Wales. At present, there is no indication that the UK Government will take over the EU funding responsibilities – and resolving this is another key issue for the UK Government to solve before it can turn its attention to Europe/ the EU/ Article 50.

  • In addition, the UK is undergoing some political upheavals – in terms of leadership of both the main parties in Parliament. The Conservative Party leadership election has taken place – and a new Prime Minister (Teresa May) and leadership team is in place. However, this team will take time to learn how to operate efficiently as a team. Moreover, ‘grass roots’ Tories (Conservatives) need to unite behind the new party leadership. The Labour Party is now embarking on a leadership election – which may well take until the end of September to resolve. By then, the UK will be into the Party Conference season – when no Parliamentary business is concluded. All of this argues for Britain doing very little to expedite its exit from the EU until 2017 at the earliest.

  • Although many in Brussels (and some in the constituent EU member states’ parliaments) would like to see the EU as both an economic and political union, the UK views the EU as an economic union with political overtones. Consequently, while Britain is seeking to leave the EU, it is anxious to establish trading agreements with its EU neighbours which will benefit all parties – while also (now) establishing trade agreements with countries it was previously excluded from dealing with individually (such as Australia, New Zealand, India and other Commonwealth countries). Establishing trade deals with these countries will take time (sometimes up to ten years, based on previous experience). Again, this is not a recipe for a swift exit from the EU for the UK. The good news – for the EU – from all this is that the UK fully expects to play its part in European defence (via NATO) and expects to co-operate fully in the war against terrorism. Nothing will change in this respect – as far as the UK is concerned – whether it’s a member of the EU or not.

 So, all in all, my current view is:

  • The UK is still a member of the EU. It has not invoked Article 50. It has no intention of doing so until it has (a) sorted out its internal political issues – with constituent countries in the UK and within the major political parties, (b) established a framework for signing its own trade deals with countries outside of the EU constrictions.

  • Since the UK is still a member of the EU – and expects to be until at least 2019 (or, more likely, 2025) – there is no valid economic reason to stop, postpone or in any way impede existing EU projects involving UK organisations. The only possible exception to this might be an EU project which is scheduled to finish after 2025 – which is a very long time away!

  • Any decision to curtail a cross-EU project involving a UK organisation has more to do with political motives than economic ones. That’s OK – if disappointing – but those who stop these projects should bear in mind that they will, therefore, not have access to the knowledge, skills, expertise, contacts and resources that those in the UK organisations can contribute. This may well hamper the efficacy and success of the project.



Education online has been closely collaborating with Mr. Bob Little for many years.        

He is a respected UK opinion-leader, PR expert, conference key-note speaker and specialist in corporate learning and development. 

For insightful consultations on Brexit issues and their impact on your business, Bob Little can be reached atTato e-mailová adresa je chráněna před spamboty. Pro její zobrazení musíte mít povolen Javascript.     You can also visit  www.boblittlepr.com  

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