With the Parliamentary recess over, now is the perfect time to take stock of the Summer’s Brexit headlines (and a few stories that were easy to miss).
The big pre-recess headline was Theresa May defying expectations of a shift towards a hard Brexit, by releasing a brief from Chequers in July that would keep the UK close to the EU’s markets but outside most of its legal institutions. A number of pro-Brexit and even May loyalist MPs declared their opposition to the plan, creating the real possibility it would fail in the Commons. Further complicating this, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, made his own lack of support clear, going so far as to say it would be the ‘end of the EU.’
With the Chequers plan facing widespread scrutiny, a no-deal Brexit is becoming more likely for some. Brexit campaigners demanded that the government release its plans for such an outcome, but the documents mostly contain warnings about increased travel delays, increased food costs and even shortage of drugs for the NHS.
In the wake of this news, the campaign for a second referendum appears to have been revitalised including donations from Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton for a ‘People’s Vote’ and an indication from Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell that the party would be more open to a second vote in the future.
This political uncertainty appears to have made some firms more inclined to weather the storm in Europe while a deal is reached; Panasonic is moving its European headquarters out of London and into Amsterdam, while EasyJet seems to be moving its pilots onto Austrian and German licenses to avoid flight restrictions in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
As negotiators clash, the government now has until the new deadline of November to finalize a Brexit deal for a polarized electorate.