LONDON — Before last week’s general election, it seemed fairly obvious that Prime Minister Theresa May was only considering one type of Brexit — a hard exit including tightly controlled immigration but an exit from the European Single Market.
However, after May’s failure to win a majority in the House of Commons — which is set to lead to a minority Conservative government propped up by the DUP — it is possible that there may be a moderating of stance on leaving the EU, with reports that senior figures from both the Tories and Labour are holding discussions about steering toward a softer Brexit.
Not only is the type of Brexit Britain pursues an important question, but so too is how the UK transitions into that Brexit. That is why law firm Hogan Lovells this week released a theoretical roadmap for leaving the EU, presenting three possible scenarios that could present themselves.
Aside from the much discussed “cliff edge Brexit” — in which the UK drops out of the European Union without a proper deal with the bloc in place — Hogan Lovells presents two other possibilities. These are a so-called “glide path” Brexit, and a “cliff hanger” Brexit.
Under the glide path scenario — the smoothest transition out of the EU — Britain would “rapidly agree to provide a high degree of continuity for an extended ‘Interim Period’,” Hogan Lovells writes in its report.
“Agreement on this would be confirmed by Spring 2018 at the latest. Business would have confidence to plan for the Future Relationship Arrangement from that point.”
This form of Brexit would include the maintaining of the majority of EU laws that are currently applicable to the UK for an extended period. In the words of the report “following the Article 50 Date, the substantive effect of most of the rules that currently govern the UK’s membership would continue to apply.”
Such an agreement could last up to five years.
Under the cliff hanger Brexit model, Britain and the EU “would reach an agreement to maintain many key aspects of their relationship, but the agreement would be reached only at the last possible moment to take effect from the Article 50 Date. Continuity would be delivered but business would not have certainty of continuity in advance.”
In the cliff edge scenario, as previously mentioned, Britain drops out of the EU at the end of the Article 50 period without a deal. As the report notes: “The UK would leave the EU on the Article 50 Date and would immediately become a ‘third country’. Very significant changes to the UK and EU relationship would take effect. The UK and EU might
“The UK and EU might agree a new relationship at a later date.”
Alongside its analysis, Hogan Lovells provides a handy chart summarising some of the key points of all the scenarios it presents. You can see it below:
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