A year ago the Gloucestershire Local Resilience Forum was meeting weekly to plan for the consequences of a no deal Brexit. This work was being mirrored across the country. However, when the government eventually made a deal with the EU the LRF was stood down and plans put on the shelf.
We are now nearing the end of the 11 month transition period where all the trade rules between the UK and the EU stay the same. But this runs out on 31st December 2020 and many complicated issues not least what happens to Northern Ireland still remain to be agreed. In fact Boris Johnson has tied himself in such a knot over Northern Ireland that he is proposing to break the treaty he only recently signed! This won’t do much to encourage anyone to sign any future treaties with the UK.
Negotiations between the UK and EU are dragging on and sadly it was no surprise when a few weeks ago the LRF was asked to resume work in case no deal is agreed. Still it’s not as if there is anything else that needs dealing with at the moment!
This extra work for the council and all the members of the LRF obviously comes when we are trying to tackle COVID and support the local economy but we can at least dust off the work done previously as a starting point. However, the real concern is for the businesses already struggling because of COVID which now have another layer of uncertainty and confusion to deal. They can’t afford to wait to see if agreement is reached and have to plan for the worst. Then if there is no deal the extra cost of tariffs and bureaucracy is likely to cost jobs locally.
You would think that the sensible thing to do in the circumstances would be to extend the transition period to minimise further damage to the economy. But I fear the government are more likely to carry on regardless and we will all have to deal with the consequences.