Whether you call it Brexit Day, British Independence Day, or The Day it All Went Wrong, it’s not far away. Whilst we still, remarkably, are unaware of how Brexit will be enacted, this week should bring some clarity. The meaningful vote, where parliament decided if Theresa May’s Brexit deal was to be accepted, has now been taken and the deal was crushed by another large majority. With the deal now rejected, lawmakers will hold a vote on the pursuit of a no-deal Brexit. Should the no-deal vote be rejected, a vote with parliament will be held on a delay to Brexit.
Broadly taken to be the worst possible outcome in terms of the country’s finances, no-deal would host a raft of negative effects to the foodservice industry. Imports and exports would suffer heavily under WTO rules, with UK producers seeking more profitable sources of revenue elsewhere. Disruptions to channel crossings could cause a reduction in availability and variety of products, particularly at the end of March, as the UK is particularly reliant on EU imports for fresh produce. A drop in the Pound, which is likely to occur, at least in the short-term, in a no-deal situation, would exacerbate matters, and cause price rises of various products to be felt particularly strongly.
Delay is an option with several potential outcomes. A third meaningful vote may well be held after another couple of months, or much longer, with further proposed changes to the deal. There is possibility of a second referendum occurring, which many in Labour have been pushing for. This would certainly take some time to organise. A vote of no confidence of the Prime Minister has also been discussed as a distinct possibility during the Brexit proceedings, leading to further delays in establishing an outcome, and possibility of a general election.
Whilst nobody can know what the 29th March will hold, a no-deal outcome seems the an unlikely option, as parliament appears firmly against this. Whether a deal will be agreed, a second referendum held, or a vote of no confidence is unknown.