It’s crunch week for the PM’s Brexit plans. Will there be clarity, asks Ian Taylor.
As the prime minister sought to secure a Brexit agreement with EU negotiators this week, trade bodies the Tourism Alliance and UKhospitality published updated guidance in the event of no deal.
This noted the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts a year-long recession from the end of 2019 in the event of no deal. The guidance also noted of a no‑deal exit on October 31:
• There will be no new entry requirements for UK-EU travel. But passports will need to be valid for at least six months.
• Airlines will operate to and from the UK as now.
• UK-EU coach and rail travel should “be largely unaffected”.
• There is no cut-off in the right to work for EU citizens entering Britain after October 31.
• EU citizens arriving after October 31 will have the right to remain and to apply up to December 2020.
• Mutual recognition of driving licences will end. Some EU states (France, Italy, the Netherlands) will require UK nationals have an International Driving Permit.
• European Health Insurance Cards [EHIC] will no longer be valid. Travel health insurance is recommended.
This week should finally bring some clarity on Brexit, at least on whether Britain will leave the EU on October 31 with a deal or the leave date be postponed.
The issue has come down to whether UK and EU negotiators can agree customs arrangements for Northern Ireland that maintain an open border with the Irish Republic.
Prime minister Boris Johnson needs a deal agreed by a European Council summit at the end of this week. He would then present the deal to Parliament on Saturday.
If he has the support of the Northern Ireland Unionist party the DUP and Leave-supporting Tories he can probably get enough MPs’ backing.
If there is no deal, Johnson is bound by the Benn Act that MPs passed last month to ask the EU to postpone the leave date.
Ahead of this week, Johnson claimed he would both abide by the law and not seek an extension without explaining how. Any attempt to exploit a loophole in the Act would face a legal challenge, so the most plausible way out for Johnson would be to resign, although he may choose to seek an extension and stay on to pursue a deal.
Optimism about a deal at the weekend gave away to doubts as Travel Weekly went to press, with the UK proposals appearing vague and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier describing them as “not properly worked out”.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer told last week’s Travel Convention: “Abta has been vocal about the need to avoid no deal. It’s costly in terms of preparation [and] damaging to consumer confidence.”
Whether or not there is a deal, a general election is on the cards – probably next month.
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