Growing alarm over Brexit

Posted By: November 16, 2017

Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Thursday, November 16, 2017

As the British government begins the process of pushing the European Union withdrawal- bill through parliament, there is growing alarm at its lack of preparedness and planning ahead of Brexit in March 2019.

Steering the withdrawal- bill through the Commons is likely to be a fraught process. MPs have tabled more than 470 amendments and there is the possibility the government could be voted down by a combination of Tory rebels and opposition members.

While this is going on, Theresa May is under pressure to come up with concrete proposals on the Irish border and other issues which would allow the exit negotiations to move to the next crucial phase, dealing with trade.

With the UK due to leave the EU in just over a year, time is running out and this is causing intense concern in organizations and businesses that need certainty so they can prepare for what lies ahead.

As matters stand, we simply do not know what will happen the day after Brexit, which is deeply worrying.

It is a concern shared by Westminster’s home affairs committee which has issued a report on the post-Brexit customs arrangements.

The committee warns that a lack of contingency planning on the part of the government could result in ‘major border disruption’.

Committee chair, Labour’s Yvette Cooper, said on the first day of Brexit the government is running the risk of seeing ‘lorries stretching for miles’ in Kent and ‘gridlock on the roads of Northern Ireland.’

Meanwhile, a House of Lords sub-committee was told about the important cross-border work that goes on in health and emergency planning and warned that any delays or impediments at the border could have an impact on the provision of life-saving care.

We are in the invidious position of not knowing what the Brexit deal will look like or even if there will be a deal but all the various scenarios need to be planned for – and soon.