While Boris Johnson flexes his ministerial muscle (to little avail) in the House of Commons, British businesses are already feeling the impact of Brexit. Particularly the potential consequences of crashing out of the EU without a deal, which a small contingency of hardliners still seem to think is a good idea.
The whole “No Deal, No Problem” philosophy representing an insult for those who stand to suffer the consequences.
Should the United Kingdom leave the EU without a deal, British business travellers may be rendered unable to perform even basic business functions abroad, without first making sense of a complex system of permits and provisions. All of which could mean delays of weeks or perhaps even months, before being granted the permits they need.
That’s according to EY, an independent consultancy studying the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit. Business travellers who expect to simply waltz into the EU without a valid authorisation could be refused entry and sent home, or face significant penalties if caught breaking the rules regarding business activities conducted on the continent as a foreigner.
“As of November 1, assuming a no-deal exit on October 31, businesses will have to navigate red lines across each of the EU27 . . . This is a sea change for UK businesses, used to the flexibility that has come with free movement,” cautioned Seema Farazi, head of financial services immigration at EY.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson continues to proclaim that the United Kingdom will exit the European Union on the 31st of October, irrespective of whether or not a deal has been reached. He’s attempted to play down the risk of no-deal over the past week, ensuring UK businesses and citizens that his negotiating team is close to a breakthrough. EU negotiators reacted with dismay, having warned that Johnson isn’t even trying to negotiate a deal and that no-deal is a more likely scenario than ever.
Downplaying the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit is all well and good, but if the United Kingdom exits the European Union without a deal, all UK citizens and businesses will instantly become foreign entities. This will mean visas and work permits will be needed by anyone attempting to do business in the EU, which will need to be applied for on a country-by-country basis. It will not, as some have suggested, be as simple as paying a flat rate for a visa and going wherever you like to do whatever you like.
Even something as simple as attending a business meeting in the EU could be made horrendously complex.
“The basic rule is that if you are going to work you will need a work permit, but countries have different definitions of work. If you are heading out simply to meet people then you will be fine. If you are doing more than that, you may need a work permit and that isn’t going to be quick,” warned Raj Najik, a senior manager at immigration law firm Fragomen.
Unfortunately, and as has been the case all along, it’s still impossible to predict what’s going to happen even a few weeks from now. The consequences of a no-deal Brexit have always been too severe to contemplate, but it almost seems as if some hardliners (including the Prime Minister) are now championing such an outcome.
Time to Take Action
While there are still no definitive answers on Brexit, the time has come for businesses to start asking some important questions. Unless you can be sure you’ve prepared thoroughly for every eventuality, you could benefit from expert legal advice.
If you’re in any way concerned about the potential consequences of Brexit – no-deal or otherwise – we’d be delighted to hear from you. Book your free initial consultation with Aristone Solicitors to discuss how Brexit may impact your business, and what you can do about it.
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