Amazingly, yesterday Parliament say yes to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill based on the renegotiated deal Boris Johnson brought back from the EU, and then with the Brexit Date just 8 days away said no to an accelerated passage of the legislation through Parliament.
This now leaves us in the hands of the EU who could in theory reject a further extension resulting in a no deal Brexit date of the 31st of October, but everyone seems convinced that no matter how tired they are of extension after extension that they’ll grant a further delay.
It’s worth pointing out that the current Brexit Date was the result of multiple extensions and has no real relevance or significance, but Boris hung his hat on the date as a mean of galvanising Brexit momentum and now with the process stalled and practically no chance of meeting the deadline an extension could range from weeks to another three or six months or even years.
Almost certain to happen now will be attempts to tag a ton of amendments on to the legislation, a customs union and a referendum will be two of the favourites to attempt to hijack the deal. Other amendments could make it unpalatable to the EU such as changing the terms or the amount of the so called ‘divorce bill’ – money due to the EU which the Government has agreed to pay.
Odds are higher now that a General Election will be forthcoming, once the EU grant an extension, Jeremy Corbyn really has run out of excuses as to why one shouldn’t be held. He’ll be left with the most tenuous of excuses that after an election if Boris wins a majority he could still change any legislation or repeal it and the potential of a no deal Brexit would still be a possibility, to which the answer surely must be for Labour to win the election and Corbyn hasn’t ever seemed confident he could do this.
One thing that is certain now, which will be critical for online retailers, is that shipping to Northern Ireland will most likely involve filling out customs forms. There may be some de minimus values with large letters slipping through, but for those who sell bulky and expensive items, especially when selling to businesses rather than consumers, customs forms for selling domestically will become a reality.
This is particularly unwelcome for small businesses who only sell domestically as they’ll have never filled out customs forms before – there is likely to be businesses springing up (at a cost) to assist and existing services who will expand their operations for domestic GB to NI customs forms. Worse – there’s a good chance you’ll have to fill out two sets of forms – one to Northern Ireland and a second for the EU.
In the mean time, the pound has crashed against the Dollar and Euro dropping over the past 24 hours, briefly rallying when MPs voted in favour of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill second reading and then diving again when rejecting an accelerated passage through Parliament meaning a delay to Brexit.
The volatility of Sterling means that buying stock from overseas will cost more but British goods are even more attractive to overseas customers – something to bear in mind as Single’s Day and the Black Friday week approach. Whilst it may be tempting to run sales on UK sites, promoting products outside of the UK could generate greater profits.
Tamebay are hosting a Brexit webinar with GFS on the 20th of November, timed for after the current Brexit date and before Black Friday by which time we’ll have a clearer idea of what’s going on. Register now to reserve your place.