25 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Brexit chaos to ‘continue for years’

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The former head of the UK Diplomatic Service says the negotiations that follow the country’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) will tie up the Public Service for years, making the current mess look like a simple affair.

The comments by Lord Peter Ricketts will alarm those who believe the Brexit cloud hanging over the country will evaporate if only an EU withdrawal agreement could be passed in Parliament.

Lord Ricketts, who was also a national security adviser and Ambassador to France, predicted negotiations would go on for years on everything from trade and financial services to data transfer, transport, fisheries and nuclear and gas supply, tying up almost the entire Public Service.

He was supported by Tim Durrant, who co-authored a report for the Institute of Government titled Negotiating Brexit, Preparing for Talks on the UK’s Future Relationship with the EU.

Mr Durrant said the forthcoming negotiations would be of a scale and complexity unseen in the UK since the country joined the then Common Market in the 1970s.

“Those negotiations will look like a walk in the park compared to what is to come,” Mr Durrant said.

“Converting the 24 pages of the political declaration into thousands of pages of legally binding text will require detailed work from a huge number of Departments and organisations across Government.”

He said that, at 585 pages, the withdrawal agreement was a tome, but if it was ratified and a free-trade deal was to follow, the final document was likely to be tens of thousands of pages long with agreements covering the tiniest of details.

He predicted that the UK could be looking forward to years of legislative logjams with little oxygen for anything other than Brexit in Parliament and the Public Service.

London, 13 May 2019

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