Boris Johnson described the possibility of a no deal as a failure of statecraft, yet we could still end up in that position.
Brexit has become a legal fact, yet facts in other senses remain hard to come by. The transition period from 31st January means we are still more or less in the EU for 11 months, our future beyond this is hazy.
Leading UK politicians stated within a few days of each other that the US trade deal would take precedence over the EU and that the EU deal would take precedence over the US, both can not be correct.
Continuity deals are in place with a number of smaller nations but they will not hold if the UK does diverge too much in regulatory terms. Fresh deals with major nations can not be negotiated in less than a year.
A Glance At The Future
To be clear, we can carry on trading much as before until 31st December 2020. If nothing is agreed with the EU by then, the UK can deal with European and other countries on World Trade Organisation terms, for as long as needed.
So business will not grind to a halt but may become more difficult, competitiveness could suffer, contracts be harder to obtain. The prime sufferers will be those wishing to earn a living and businesses they work for.
The wider UK may pay a price, if government revenue from companies and employees drops. Consumer supplies could be affected, or increase in price, the international skills we need be less likely to arrive.
Our chancellor stated that some businesses will benefit, others will suffer, a pot luck scenario, which isn’t a great ingredient for business planning. Even so, British business may still cope with the change.
The UK has been written of in the past, end of empire, currency collapse, social ills, yet we remain the 6th largest economy in the world. Our language is international, the goods, or services we provide respected.
Business life will be less than ideal for a good number in the years ahead but our bet is that most will find a way. There has already been a degree of Brexit fallout and the majority of companies have managed.
There are ways of working in partnership with overseas companies which transcend Brexit. Internal business links can be tightened, to increase efficiency, perhaps support each other in international ventures.
Markets will open up and be supplied through innovation, rather than looking at what might have been. We have not been hit by nuclear weapons, the base is sound, with effort and imagination we can still go forward.
Our team appreciates that trips abroad, to provide a service, or showcase companies will be vital. EU freedom of movement may go but temporary exports can carry on, with a minimum of fuss thanks to the ATA carnet system.
Other providers of a multitude of B2B services will also understand the position, go the extra mile to offer support. We can not change what has happened but can find ways to make the future effective for business, for trade across the globe.