What would a no-deal Brexit look like?

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, the media have struggled to describe how a no-deal Brexit might work.  Understandable really, as it all depends.  On the actions the parties take; the responses to each other’s actions; and adaptation to new policy realities.

The most recent effort from The Times (see here) sacrificed clarity for comprehensiveness, listing outcomes ranging from the far-fetched (that aerospace companies will abandon their investments and skilled workers and decamp to Europe and China) to the near-inevitable (that volume car manufacturing in the UK is facing serious restructuring). But in speculating on outcomes, it might have missed a chance to explain the choices driving them.

Continue reading “What would a no-deal Brexit look like?”

Second (and last?) chance for Britain’s Conservative party

Conservative party MPs are starting the process to replace Theresa May as Britain’s Prime Minister. Candidates are proffering policy positions and personal cameos as if they mattered (they don’t for now – maybe later), with little recognition of the changed rules of the game, and less of the abyss that looms before them.  It’s a little like Kerensky’s ministers arguing over personal expenses, while the Bolsheviks stream through the gates of St Petersburg’s Winter Palace.

Continue reading “Second (and last?) chance for Britain’s Conservative party”

European elections: How a vote about nothing became a vote for something

It doesn’t really get much more seismic than this.   The Brexit party registered 89 days before the European elections, took first place and 32% of the British vote, reducing the opposition Labour party to 14% and the governing Conservative party to single figures, perhaps even threatening their existences.  But the BBC (and some other media) thought that it was also important to point out that “parties opposed to the UK’s exit from the EU secured more votes [40%] than those advocating a no-deal Brexit [35%]“.

This risks missing the point.  The vote for a parliament which the British MPs are due to leave looks like an indicative referendum with the following approximate results: parties supporting no-deal Brexit (35%); parties committed to keeping Britain in the EU (40%) and parties pledged to Brexit and not sure what to do (25%).   Continue reading “European elections: How a vote about nothing became a vote for something”

Brexit: things may happen fast

Britain’s most unlucky Prime Minister since Ted Heath is still on her feet.  Just. Theresa May won a stay of execution by saying she would give a timetable for her departure in early June, after she has brought her Brexit deal back to Parliament for a fourth attempt.  Hardly anyone thinks it has a chance of passing. Some think it might not even get to the starting blocks, if the European elections this week go badly.

The talking, votes and deadlock have gone on for so long that it seems to have become the new normal. But in reality, the ground has been shifting very fast.  Look at the signs.

Continue reading “Brexit: things may happen fast”

Britain’s Brexit brouhaha brings down a reputation for stability and good governance


The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday next week without arrangements for either a transition or a future relationship.   Prime Minister Theresa May wants a short delay to see if she can finally get Britain’s Parliament to agree to her exit plan.  The EU is likely to grant it.

This sort of end game was always probable given the importance of the issues at stake.  The delay will ratchet up the pressure on all of the parties, until one of them cracks.

Readers of this blog will know the background by heart.  Britain’s Conservative party government has spent two years negotiating a transition and exit agreement.  The draft agreement is a relatively ‘soft Brexit’ intended to align the UK with the EU’s trading and regulatory arrangements and making these hard to change without leaving Northern Ireland, part of the UK’s sovereign territory, subject to EU rules. Continue reading “Britain’s Brexit brouhaha brings down a reputation for stability and good governance”

Robertson sounded sanguine about Brexit – but he is urging NZ traders to have contingency plans

Finance Minister Grant Robertson sounded very sanguine about the   impact of Brexit on the New Zealand economy when he  answered  a  “patsy”  question from one of his own  back-benchers  in  Parliament.

He noted NZ and the UK have signed two agreements that will help ensure continuity and stability in the regulatory arrangements underpinning New Zealand’s trade.

But (rather  less  confidently) he added that all NZ businesses which might be affected by Brexit should  consider the implications of the full range of scenarios for their business and ensure that they have contingency plans in place.

Current uncertainty means it is important for us to prepare for the full range of potential outcomes. Treasury’s assessment is that a no-deal Brexit would likely have a small overall negative impact on the NZ economy, mainly due to disruption of some specific NZ businesses and industries. For example, UK tourist numbers could fall, Kiwi goods could face delays at the UK border, and importers could face supply disruptions”. Continue reading “Robertson sounded sanguine about Brexit – but he is urging NZ traders to have contingency plans”