Chris Pincher, a UK minister assigned to represent their interests in the European Union, left the final EU meeting today. The action represents the effective beginning of Brexit. The legal beginning will occur on Friday, at which time the UK will officially be severed from the EU.
That division will be difficult to notice. Contrary to predictions of immediate disaster, very little will actually change for UK citizens, because both groups have agreed to temporary measures which will push dates for service agreements out for eleven months as new trade rules are determined.
This is technically “no deal” Brexit, but it’s a delayed version. Both sides have agreed to act like there is a deal in place until the end of 2020, and during the interim they are expected to work through their differences. Britain has promised not to deviate too wildly from EU policy during the negotiation, and the EU has promised to treat the UK as if it were basically a rogue partner.
The risk involved is that of definition. What the UK considers reasonable and minor divergence from EU policy may be seen as dramatic changes by the EU.
Pro-Brexit factions in the UK are predicting much greater negotiating power for the UK after the split. EU ministers are warning that if the UK decides to radically alter its fiscal policy, the trade negotiations – dependent in part on the similarity between the two groups – will be thrown into chaos and may not be satisfactorily concluded by next year. The EU also has mechanisms by which they can penalize UK financial institutions, should they feel pressured into doing so.
A political hit will likely be taken by the Brexit doomsayers, as the devastation they predicted does not occur. The proper gauge of their accuracy will be Britain’s position a few years from now, after the eleven month span has passed and new trade and service agreements are solidified.