Brexit: The hard work starts now

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Mike McKeon, Chair of the Brexit Advisory Group By Mike McKeon CA, Chair ICAS Brexit Advisory Group

23 June 2017

There is growing consensus that the ‘Phoney War’ may now be over and we are approaching the business-end of the Brexit process.  

This is not to say that nothing has been happening.  Our engagement with members and other stakeholders suggests the opposite with companies preparing for their view of a Brexit outcome and the UK Civil Service deeply engaged in what needs to happen.  

In September, when ICAS first started to engage on Brexit, it would be fair to say that the UK Civil Service, was in some confusion.  This is not the case today.  Our observations are that they have come a long way and are now in much better shape to tackle Brexit in all its glory.

Movement and rights of people

This was a key issue in the referendum, and is still top of everyone’s list.  

Our research shows that in 2014, 43% of people migrating to the UK were EU nationals, while 44% were non-EU nationals. Thus, a little under half of migrants entering the UK were subject to existing immigration controls. Brexit will address EU migration, but what of non-EU migration?

Sorting out what degree of freedom EU nationals will have to come and go to the UK will only be part of the solution; the status of EU nationals currently living in the UK and of UK citizens living in the EU, will also need to be addressed. The Prime Minister's offer of "UK settled status" for EU nationals who have been in the UK for five years, is a start.

The “divorce bill”

There has been much in the press about the cost of Brexit, with a rate of inflation in reported numbers that would tax the skills of any economist. The true cost is, as yet, unknown.

But what might be included in this bill?

Areas where the UK has made commitments on future EU expenditure, and where the UK gains considerable benefit, would be a start.  Included here would be funding for programmes on research and innovation such as Horizon 2020 and education, training and sport for example, Erasmus+. Together UK organisations receive between £1bn and £1.5bn per annum directly from the EU Commission.

Any future understanding of the divorce bill will need to address not only the cost but any benefit to be accrued or forgone.  We can only hope that future commentary on this issue seeks to provide some balance, not something we have seen a great deal of evidence of to date.

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