The road to Brexit: 16 things you need to know about what will happen if we vote to leave the EU

me 2015 (large)

As the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU draws closer, the result is impossible to predict. Many are asking what, in practical terms, would happen if we vote for Brexit. Alan Renwick explored some key elements of the withdrawal process before the referendum campaign began. Here, he gives a point-by-point overview of what the road to Brexit might look like.

**An updated version of this post was published on 24 June in light of the referendum result**

The effect of the referendum

1. We will not immediately leave the EU if the result on 24 June shows a majority for Brexit. Indeed, in purely legal terms, the referendum result has no effect at all: the vote is advisory, so, in principle, the government could choose to ignore it. In political terms, however, ministers could not do that. We should presume that a vote to leave means that we will leave (see point 16) – though there is scope for various complications along the way.

2. The Prime Minister would very likely announce his resignation quickly, but would stay in post until his successor was chosen. There is much speculation that David Cameron would be out of Downing Street within days, and it is true that his position would probably become untenable. But the Cabinet Manual is clear (at paragraph 2.10) that he cannot go until he can advise the Queen on who should form the new government. Conservative party rules set out a two-stage leadership election process: first, the parliamentary party, through successive ballots, whittles the field down to two candidates; then the party membership, by postal ballot, chooses between these. Recent experience suggests this would take two to three months.

The mechanisms of withdrawal

3. Following a vote for Brexit, a period of negotiations about the UK’s future relationship with the EU would begin, as set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Prime Minister triggers this by notifying the European Council (the collective body of the 28 member states’ prime ministers or presidents) that the UK intends to withdraw. That opens a two-year window for negotiating withdrawal terms – a period that can be extended, but only with the unanimous support of all the member states. We leave once a deal – which requires the support of the UK and a ‘qualified majority’ of the remaining 27 member states (specifically, 20 of them, comprising at least 65 per cent of their population) – is struck. If the two-year period comes to an end with neither a deal nor an extension, we leave automatically on terms we may not like (see point 4).

4. Article 50 skews the balance of power in the negotiations in favour of the continuing member states. That is because of the two-year rule and the unanimity requirement for extensions to that period. If we find ourselves outside the EU with no deal, we automatically revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on trade. That means that tariffs have to be imposed on trade between the UK and the EU. This would be bad for everyone, but especially for the UK. Strenuous – and probably successful – efforts would be made to avoid it. But, as we explore in our briefing paper on the impact of Brexit on other member states, some countries would strike a very hard bargain. We can presume that the UK would not get its way on everything.

5. There is no requirement for the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 immediately after a vote for Brexit. It would be sensible for the UK to work out its negotiating position and construct its negotiating team before setting the clock running. The government might also hope to hold preliminary discussions with other member states – though how far they would be willing to engage at this stage is unclear. At the same time, given the damaging effects of uncertainty, there would be strong reasons for avoiding too long a delay.

6. It is vanishingly unlikely that the UK could withdraw without triggering Article 50 at all. Vote Leave suggests that it might be possible to leave via Article 48, which sets out the procedure for revising EU treaties. But a simple majority of member states could block even a request to consider such a route, and the amendments themselves would require ratification by every member state. Given that the Article 50 process skews the balance of power towards the continuing member states, we can presume they would insist on its use.

7. Both sides in the referendum campaign agree that this whole process would take several years, during which the UK would remain in the EU. The Remain side has always argued that the negotiations would be lengthy; the Leave side has now indicated that it would like to complete the process by 2020. Until the negotiation process is complete, the UK remains fully subject to its obligations under EU law. Thus, while Vote Leave says it would introduce measures early in the withdrawal process to limit the writ of the European Court of Justice, doing so could violate the law. Professor Kenneth Armstrong has analysed the flaws in this plan in depth.

The content of the negotiations

8. The process of withdrawal would involve three sets of negotiations:

  • First would be the negotiation of the withdrawal terms themselves. These would likely include, for example, an agreement on the rights of UK citizens already resident in other member states and of EU citizens resident in the UK. As Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott has explained, those rights – contrary to what some have said – are for the most part not protected under existing international law.
  • Second, it would be necessary to negotiate a trade deal with the EU. The official Vote Leave campaign has confirmed that it wants such a deal and correctly points out that everyone’s interests would be served by having one. The content of the deal would, however, be hotly contested. Vote Leave focuses on securing free trade in goods and argues that, because the UK imports more goods from the EU than it exports to the EU, we could expect to be offered a good deal. But there would be greater difficulties in services. Open Europe (which campaigns for EU reform and is neutral in the referendum) highlights particular difficulties in financial services, where it rates the chances of maintaining current levels of access to the EU as ‘low’.
  • Third, the UK would have to negotiate the terms of its membership of the WTO and would want also to negotiate trade deals with the over 50 countries that currently have such deals with the EU, as the existing arrangements will no longer apply to the UK from the moment of Brexit. The WTO itself has warned that this would not be straightforward: the UK would not be allowed just to ‘cut and paste’ the terms of WTO membership that it currently has through its EU membership. Similarly, while we might hope that other countries would agree quickly to extend the EU rules to the UK, we cannot presume that all would – and the UK itself might want different terms in some cases.

These negotiations could run in parallel, or the UK could negotiate withdrawal first and future arrangements later. As Professor Adam Lazowski has pointed out, there are difficulties in both approaches.

Could parliament influence the process?

9. Parliament has no formal say over whether or when Article 50 is invoked, as this lies within the royal prerogative powers that are exercised by government. Government’s powers in matters of foreign policy are very extensive, and parliament has veto rights only in respect of treaties. If parliament were to pass a motion calling on the Prime Minister not to invoke Article 50, we might nevertheless expect him (or perhaps, by then, her) to respect that. But the Prime Minister could claim the authority of the popular vote to justify ignoring such pressure.

10. Parliament would, however, be able to vote on the withdrawal deal, as that would be a treaty. Indeed, as we examined in our briefing paper on Brexit’s effects on Westminster and Whitehall, parliament would expect to be updated regularly on the negotiations and to have its views heard, perhaps through votes on specific issues. The large majority of MPs currently favour staying in the EU. If they wanted a post-Brexit deal involving substantial ongoing integration with the EU – perhaps akin to Norway’s arrangements ­– they could potentially have the power to reject any deal that did not provide that. Whether they would do so would depend in part on the political situation and the state of public opinion at the time, both of which are highly unpredictable. It would depend also on the withdrawal timetable: if the two-year window were near to closing, rejecting the deal on the table could be very risky.

11. Beyond the negotiations, parliament would also have a great deal of legislating to do. Withdrawal would require repeal of the European Communities Act (ECA) of 1972 – the legislation that underpins the UK’s EU membership. But there would also be two much larger tasks. First, a great deal of legislation has been passed over the last forty years that enacts provisions required under EU membership. Parliament would presumably wish to review – and in places amend or repeal – this body of law during or following withdrawal. Second, EU ‘regulations’ apply directly in the UK without domestic implementing legislation and would automatically cease to apply upon repeal of the ECA. But it would be essential to retain some of these, at least in the short term: otherwise, we would lack rules on many important matters. Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska points out, for example, that much of the trading done in the City of London would overnight become illegal unless new provision were made. The process of reviewing this legislation – working out what to keep, what to amend, and what to remove – would be lengthy, complex, and contested. It has been discussed further on this site by former Clerk of the House of Commons Lord Lisvane.

Could Whitehall cope?

12. Whitehall, meanwhile, would be severely stretched by the mammoth exercise of withdrawal. The civil service has zero spare capacity after the cuts of the last five years: many departments have seen budget cuts of over a quarter since 2010, and total civil service employment has fallen by almost a fifth in the same period. Further spending reductions for the coming years were set out in last year’s spending review. The UK has no current capacity at all in trade negotiations, as this is a job that has been outsourced to Brussels. The task of reviewing 40 years of EU and domestic legislation could take five or ten years. It would make it very difficult for the government to embark on any new policy while it reviews all these old policies. Whitehall also risks becoming very clumsy in handling important relationships (such as with Scotland: see below) because it would be so severely distracted.

What about Scotland and Northern Ireland?

13. Scotland’s position within the UK would probably become even more contested. The polls suggest that, if the UK votes for Brexit, that will reflect the result in England and (probably) Wales: the Remain side is well ahead in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This would inflame nationalist sentiment in Scotland. There is widespread speculation that it would lead to a second independence referendum. That is indeed possible. As we explore in our briefing paper on Brexit’s effects on devolution and the Union, however, Nicola Sturgeon would not move quickly: she has said that she will call a second referendum only if polls consistently show substantial majority support for independence. Brexit would in some ways make independence harder: not least, the combination of the two would create an EU border between Scotland and England. The outcome could therefore be that Scotland becomes less satisfied with the UK but more locked into it.

14. This sense of grievance could be further aroused by the process of withdrawal itself. The Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, and Northern Ireland Assembly are all legally required to operate within EU law. In order to withdraw from the EU cleanly, these requirements would have to be repealed (see here for the difficulties that would ensue if they were not). By convention, this would require the consent of the devolved legislatures, which they might well refuse to grant. Sionaidh Douglas-Scott argues that Westminster could precipitate a constitutional crisis if it chose to override such refusal. Some others doubt that. Nevertheless, it would add to the sense in Scotland that London is breaking the promises it has made to the Scottish people.

15. There are concerns in Northern Ireland that Brexit would undermine the peace process. As our briefing paper on Brexit and devolution also explores, the EU has long been involved in the peace process and gives substantial funding to peace initiatives. Furthermore, experts in both the North and the Republic question whether the existing Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland could be maintained following Brexit, which would require imposition of a ‘hard border’. The great achievement of the last 20 years has been to remove the border as an issue in Northern Irish politics; its reintroduction would fuel insecurities and threaten the stability and cohesion of the power sharing arrangements.

Could there by a second referendum?

16. There is no easy route to a second referendum. There has been much speculation around the question of whether a second referendum to finalise our future relationship with the EU could be held. As I explored in detail in my earlier post, various kinds of second referendum can be imagined, but all face considerable difficulties. One idea, floated last year by Boris Johnson and revived yesterday by the Sunday Times, is that we might take a referendum vote to leave as an opportunity to negotiate not Brexit, but rather radically revised terms of ongoing membership. In the wake of a public vote specifically for Brexit (unless perhaps the margin is very tight), however, it would be politically very difficult for any Prime Minister to pursue such a path. Another idea is a vote on the terms of the Brexit deal once they have been negotiated. The alternative to accepting the deal might either be that we stay in the EU after all or that we go back and try to negotiate something better. The trouble with both options is that they are legally perilous: Article 50 provides no mechanism for withdrawing a notification of intent to leave the EU, and the two-year limit means that, if we rejected a deal, we could find ourselves on the outside by default. In practice, some way round these difficulties might well be found – but the UK might have to make significant concessions to get there. So, while scenarios leading to a second referendum are conceivable – such as if government and parliament are at loggerheads over the terms of the deal – we should presume that leave means leave.

These issues have been explored in detail at a special series of seminars hosted by the Constitution Unit and UCL European Institute. Briefing papers and videos of the seminars are available on the Constitution Unit website.

About the author

Dr Alan Renwick is the Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit.

42 thoughts on “The road to Brexit: 16 things you need to know about what will happen if we vote to leave the EU

  1. Dear bloggers

    What is the basis/authority for your assertion in point 11 that all regs passed validly under ECA72 would cease to have effect once ECA itself repealed? Find it hard to believe myself

    Stefan Cross QC

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. I’m sure there are technical aspects of Dr Renwick’s assessment worth discussing, as Stefan Cross QC has raised here. However surely the overriding effect of this piece must be to emphasise the appalling reality of what will hit us if the leave campaign wins on Thursday. As a remain campaigner I have been constantly concerned at the constraints David Cameron’s personal stance has imposed upon us – the ridiculous assertion that the UK will be fine either way, albeit rather better if we stay in the EU. The reality is that Brexit will, if it happens, be disastrous to us and highly damaging to the rest of Europe. In particular as an expatriate Ulsterman I can only view the Irish implications with great alarm. .

  3. Hard to believe Alan Renwick is repeating errors already drawn to his attention months ago.
    1. “We leave once a deal – which requires the support of the UK and a ‘qualified majority’ of the remaining 27 member states (specifically, 20 of them, comprising at least 65 per cent of their population) – is struck.”
    No. The Treaties shall cease to apply .. from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement.
    2. “If we find ourselves outside the EU with no deal, we automatically revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on trade. That means that tariffs have to be imposed on trade between the UK and the EU. ”
    No. The WTO does not require tariffs. It permits them. In any case Alan Renwick’s entire point 4 is based on the highly questionable assumption that the UK has no bargaining ability at all. It is true that Cameron and Osborne have been proclaiming that their government is utterly supine and useless when it comes advancing or protecting British interests – with lurid, not to say fantastic consequences – but it is not necessarily so.
    3. Alan Renwick’s point 4 is based on another wholly incorrect assumption that the future relationship with the EU – if any – must be decided within the two year period. Article 50: “the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”
    This means first that the two year limit applies only to terms of withdrawal and second that an extension beyond two years requires the agreement of the UK. This places UK in a very strong position: if the EU does not agree terms of withdrawal within two years it stands to get nothing, zero, zilch unless the UK agrees an extension and then only to negotiate, not necessarily to agree.
    4. Point 7 ” Both sides in the referendum campaign agree that this whole process would take several years, during which the UK would remain in the EU.”
    This contradicts point 4 and also makes the false assumption that the article 50 process is about negotiating a new relationship, which it is not. This also misses the point that the Remain side is the Government and the Leave side is not an alternative government. The Government can do a great deal, if it so chooses, to reduce uncertainty without have to negotiate its actions with the EU, eg., replacing all EU grants and funding immediately with UK grants and funding, probably for a limited period pending review.
    5. Also in Point 7: “Until the negotiation process is complete, the UK remains fully subject to its obligations under EU law. ”
    No. “The Treaties shall cease to apply .. from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement.” We do not need to wait until any new arrangement is concluded, only terms of withdrawal. Then the European Communities Act 1972 can be repealed.
    6. Point 8 is just nonsense since it conflates terms of withdrawal and a new relationship. Furthermore, UK is already a member of the WTO and there is clearly no requirement to negotiate with all 50 countries that have trade deals with the EU. Many are simply irrelevant.

    • My reading of the situation is similar to Peter Gardner’s on the point that the UK exit from “the Treaties” and therefore from the EU would take place upon the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement. However I think that makes the difficult position of the UK even worse than Dr Renwick has set out. Imagine the continuing uncertainty faced by industry and employees not only to survive the lengthy negotiations to finalise a new way forward both with the remaining EU and with the 50-odd countries with whom the EU has trade deals but doing so from a position already outside the EU…….

      • The UK can set its new way forward largely independently of the EU. If everything relevant to Britain’s new direction is to be subject to negotiation with the EU what is the point of leaving? The only things that must be agreed with the Eu are the lose ends that would be left were the Treaties suddenly to be inapplicable. For example: visa free travel, rights of residence, winding down payments to the EU. Even EU rules could simply be implemented lock stock and barrel by the UK without any negotiation, bang, done. Review later at leisure independently of the EU. New or not yet implemented EU directives might require a bit of ‘look if you don’t mind we won’t implement that one because are are leaving in 6 mths?’ Ultimately if the EU doesn’t like it we come up to the two year deadline and it gets nothing. In fact, there is nothing to stop UK saying right up front, no new rules or directives issued after the date of the referendum will automatically apply to the UK but will be tabled for exit negotiations. The EU might not agree but I believe in Gavin Kennedy’s maxim: ‘Shock them with your opening offer/demand’.

        I cannot accept the supine assumption throughout Alan Renwick’s article that the UK has no bargaining power. It has plenty starting with the trade deficit in favour of the EU. Every threat of tariffs or non-tariff barriers must be met in kind and will work in Britain’s favour, not least because the tariffs would mean extra revenue for HMG, ie. profits to UK.

  4. Here is where we part company, Peter. No-one is saying we have no bargaining power but certainly far from a dominant position. I cannot believe that a stable situation sufficient to satisfy major investors in our economy could be achieved in the manner and timescale you suggest. I am not sure whether Dr Renwick will see fit to enter this thread himself but it would be helpful to have his comments on our exchange so far.

    • Britain’s bargaining position is really about politics and economics rather than constitutional matters, although the argument to leave is, for me, a constitutional matter. There is no precedent historically for successful undemocratic government, no precedent for successful supra-national government as constituted in the EU. If there is a philosophical argument for remaining in the EU it has not been put forward by Remain and neither was it in 1975. The right to self-determination was seen as essential to peace and prosperity after WW1 and was therefore written into the founding covenant of the League of Nations in 1919 and again into the charter of the United Nations. Remaining in the EU abrogates that right and therefore, by all historical precedent will lead to strife and violence as well as economic decline. It may take 10 years, 20 or 50, but that is the course of historical precedent.
      If Alan Renwick would like to address the question of why undemocratic supra-national government is superior to sovereign parliamentary democracy I would welcome that contribution from him.

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  12. Agree. but for a different reason. People are smart, groups of people are stupid. British leaders appear to turn on their citizens by openly lying about the benefits of remaining in the EU. This is incomprehensible to me, yet true and obvious. England will remain in the EU, of this I am sure and disappointed. The EU will continue to grow in power and domination and stupidity. They will retain public support. They will be the roots of dystopia, fortunately I will be long gone from old age before it takes over.
    In a similar note, Hillary Clinton will be thoroughly discredited as a liar, corrupt politician, criminal who got away with it, war monger, and incompetent diplomat in such a way that all will accept her as such. The public will see her in far more agreement than in the 1990s when the Clintons were in the White house and inept Republicans mounted daily attacks. She will still be our next President.
    The world deserves whatever it gets as a result of these two events.
    FYI, interest rates will remain low and QE will remain high so that central banks can support governments that spend far beyond their means, forever. This will complete the trinity of inept governments, inept monetary policy, and complicit citizenry who all prefer this way of life to any other alternative. Anyone who expects better is wasting their time and energy. Let’s not forget perpetual war, as war is good for business.

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    • It is not a question of overturning it. It wasn’t a decision by parliament, nor by the government, nor by a court, nor by the monarch. It was a vote to answer a question put to the people by Parliament. As such the result can be ignored. The constitutional question concerns the relationship between parliament and voters. In what sense is parliament supreme – over other institutions of the state, yes (except for the EU which is supreme over Parliament until such time as parliament repeals the ECA 1972). But over the people? I think not. But there is a school of thought that Members of Parliament are not delegates but representatives and should vote in the interests of their constituents or of their nation as they see fit, not merely as delegates following instructions.
      I would add that in this particular case the question arises only because the result of the referendum was a vote to leave the EU. The Remainers clearly are content with the EU having supremacy over national parliaments so are keen to find ways of by-passing democracy. The Leavers prefer government by sovereign parliamentary democracy and they have proven to be the majority. Had they proven to be the minority they would not even ask the question.

    • I replied earlier but it seems to have disappeared. This is a post script courtesy of The Telegraph’s Philip Johnston who writes today: ‘As Edmund Burke said, they [MPs] are not delegates to do the bidding of their constituents. “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.’

    • Berthold Brecht recognised your problem Renee in 1953

      After the uprising of the 17th June
      The Secretary of the Writers Union
      Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
      Stating that the people
      Had forfeited the confidence of the government
      And could win it back only
      By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
      In that case for the government
      To dissolve the people
      And elect another?

      In that case for the government
      To dissolve the people
      And elect another?

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  25. My question is this, if we trigger article 50 we would be out of the EU under EU law. Surely then we don’t need to repeal the European Communities Act as the ECJ does not recognise us as member of the European Union anymore anyway? It would become one of many obsolete acts on the statute book that was never repealed would it not?

    • Article 50 clearly states that the treaties continue to apply until an agreement on terms of exit comes into force or after two years in the absence of such agreement unless all 28 member states agree to extend the period of negotiation beyond two years. Ergo Britain remains a member until then. If the ECJ acts in a way contrary to this it would be in breach of the treaties and EU law. What it is saying about disregarding Britain is just bluster. Britain should be included in all European Council meetings and retains the right to vote in all EU fora until it has formally left iaw Article 50.

      • EXcept…… on any matter and subject reltaed to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom. The same for the Commissioner nominated by the United Kingdom (currently, the seat is vacant, following the resignation of Lord Hill(?)) in the meetings of the Commission.

      • I disagree. The Treaties continue to apply. Just as that means UK is subject to the ECJ and any demands the EU may make eg., more funds for something within the rules, or new regulations so Britain is entitled to maintain its membership of Parliament, Council etc etc. Lord Hill’s resignation was a unilateral decision. It was not required by the treaties nor by the rules. Obviously, in this unprecedented situation there will be games of obstruction and what have you to be played. But them’s the rules.

        On matters regarding UK’s withdrawal, both the UK and EU have the right to internal discussions in the absence of the other party, which is perfectly fair and normal. On the formal terms of exit, Article 50 obliges the EU to negotiate and reach agreement. It cannot unilaterally dictate terms to the UK. That remains the case until the terms of exit come into force (or no agreement is reached after two years and UK refuses to continue negotiation). The EU has no legal or constitutional right to pick and choose which parts of the Treaties it will abide by and which it will not.

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  27. It has to be borne in mind that the Commissioners are pledged to act in the interests of the EU as a whole and not as advocates for their country of origin. Nevertheless it would clearly be an uncomfortable situation, to say the least, for Lord Hill to continue, probably for two years or more, as the Commissioner in charge of Financial Services given the questions which will arise as to the continuation or otherwise of the City of London’s current dominant position in this field after brexit. In these circumstances I think Lord Hill’s resignation was honourable. As Peter Gardner says each Member State is entitled to one commissioner around the bloc’s top table and despite Brexit, Mr Juncker has said he is ready to appoint a new UK Commissioner on a temporary basis.

    A European Commission spokesperson was reported as saying “Under the EU Treaties, there should be one commissioner per Member State in the commission. President Juncker stands ready to discuss swiftly with the British Prime Minister potential names for a commissioner of UK nationality, as well as the allocation of a possible portfolio.”

    I gather that David Cameron was considering Sir Julian King, long term Foreign Office man and Brussels insider, for the role but the responsibility for the appointment now passes to Theresa May. It will be interesting to see what (non-controversial?) portfolio is allocated.

  28. What I understand in Artticle 50: Once the notification has been sent, a clock starts tickig, but for maximum of two years! And the deadline might be……. 25 months after trhe referenedum (July 23d 2018) Or….. in 2019, or in 2020, etc….Ddepends on when the UK government sends the notification to its partners. But the partners want it, fairly “fast”!!!!!!

    All the current members of the EU have 24 months to organise. But if no agreement is reached during that time on their “common” or “vicinity life”, this period may be extended, but only if there is a unanimty for that!! If there is no unanimty, either for an agreement to oraganise the “neighbouhood (actually,, what kind of “association” between UK and the European Union), or no unamity to exend the discussions, UK cease to be a member of the European Union just 2 years after the notification!! And in its relations with the EU UK will be suddenly in the sama position as….. Mongolia without ANY trade agreeement. Nothing!!! On THAT day, UK will lose much more than EU!!!!!

    UK “holds the hand” for sending the notification. But the EU, or any member of the EU will hold the hand at the closing of the two-years period open for the dissussion ans during which the UK will still be a full-fledged member of the EU.

    With one exception : when the BREXIT or the project of agreement to oragnize the lives of the “European neighbourhood” will be discussed!!

    • I’e aid this many times but it appears to need repeating again. The Article 50 negotiations require only terms of exit to be agreed. They do not require a new relationship on trade or anything else to be agreed. If they did it would be like saying no party to the treaty can ever terminate it, only change its terms. Clearly nonsense.
      Second, UK does not need a trade agreement with the EU to trade with it. The WTO does not require tariffs. It permits them. The whole point of a trade agreement is to open up a protected market to foreign competition, on a reciprocal basis. The vast majority of the world’s trade is conducted outside trade agreements under WTO rules. Should the EU Customs Union decide to impose tariffs, a) they are limited by WTO rules, b) Britain would reciprocate, and c) the balance of trade is vastly in favour of Britain so the EU would lose exports and the UK would gain tax revenue. The EU would not impose tariffs unless it is in a fit of pique and happy to cut off its nose to spite its face. It would not be rational.
      Third, Article 50 negotiations can be extended beyond two years only by agreement with UK. So whatever the EU may want in the exit agreement it cannot be forced on UK. UK is not the supplicant here and the Government is too full of EU minded people who have difficulty understanding which side of the negotiations they are supposed to be on. The only risks are the resolve of the UK Government and its ability to negotiate.

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