How likely now is a no-deal Brexit?
Many serious people are worried that the UK may leave the EU next March without a withdrawal agreement in place.
Stepping back, there are six pointers to there being an exit agreement in place in time.
The first is that both sides want an agreement.
The second is that it is in the respective interests of both parties that there is an agreement.
The third is that the two sides are still negotiating.
The fourth pointer is that there is a text which is 80% agreed.
The fifth is that there is plenty of time before next March (and even before October which is preferred deadline of the EU).
And sixth, the current difficulties about the Irish “backstop” arrangements if there is not a future relationship agreement are a disagreement about means rather than ends. Both sides accept that this is an issue to be addressed and a risk to be managed.
Putting into this perspective, the current noise about there a “no deal” Brexit should not be too disheartening.
But a call for calm is not an invitation for complacency: the negotiations can still collapse, and there is a non-trivial chance that the UK will leave the UK by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place. Policy and law are not often logical or sensible.
(No doubt this disclaimer will not stop a commentator saying “but you are making an assumption that…” when I am not making any such assumption.)
Overall, it is far too early to panic.
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