With the EU’s approach toward the ongoing Brexit negotiations defined by an unimaginative and inflexible attitude, permeated by its obsessive commitment toward further integration and centralisation, the Government should prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario, argues Rory Broomfield.

Only 560 days to go. That’s the time from this Friday (September 15, 2017) until the end of March 2019 when the UK is set to officially leave the EU.

It’s taken a long time to get to this point – and there are still those that wish to frustrate (or even reverse) the historic decision made by the British people last year. Notwithstanding this, for now, the negotiations are ongoing regarding what the relationship between the UK and the EU might look post Brexit.

But what has become clear over the past few months is that the EU negotiators are not cooperating with both the UK’s Government the EU Council’s desire to show flexibility and imagination in coming to an agreement – especially in a number of key areas.

The UK’s published position papers so far have reflected the Government’s intention and desire to build a ‘strong and deep partnership’ between the EU and the UK post Brexit – despite concerns being raised over how far the Government is prepared to commit the UK. However, with the Juncker Commission showing growing interest in building a centralised structure and new Defence Union rather engaging in positive discussion, and with the German election result still unknown, the situation has ground to a halt.

Ultimately, this makes a no deal scenario increasingly likely – and is something that the former Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has this week warned about. This joins a multitude of public warnings over how the negotiations are going.

Mervyn King quite rightly suggests that the Government should set up a new team to prepare for a no deal scenario. This would not just give the country clarity over the alternative, but also show the EU that the UK is prepared for this occurrence.

It would be a smart move and allow business to prepare for this situation. By setting out what ‘no deal’ means would also show the country that ‘no deal’ is not ‘the worst-case scenario’ nor a ‘cliff-edge’, a view perpetuated by the Labour Party and others.

Indeed, this is what many (including myself) have been saying for some time. I was delighted to see this week that Sir James Dyson also agrees. In an interview earlier this week, Sir James rightly points out that a no deal scenario presents business opportunities for the UK.

We should not be scared of this scenario. Nor should we be ill prepared for it. The Prime Minister Theresa May is due to give a speech later this month in Florence, Italy, to show that the UK still wants to be a part of Europe, but not the EU’. Judging by what we have seen so far, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this sentiment – placing Europe before the EU – will fall on deaf ears in Brussels. If it does then the UK needs to match actions with words: restate that no deal is better than a bad deal and make the appropriate preparations.

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