One chart shows why it’s near impossible for Britain to sort a post-Brexit trade deal in 2 years

LONDON — Britain is going to leave the European Union by the end of March 2019 and, by that time, the country must agree to how much it will pay the EU in the divorce and what the terms of its exit is going to be.

It is going to be extremely complex and difficult because Prime Minister Theresa May will have to forge an agreement with the EU over everything from immigration to trade.

May is taking Britain towards a “hard Brexit” — shorthand for Britain leaving the European Union without access to the Single Market in exchange for having full control over immigration into the country.

And this chart by bank ING of the Brexit talk timetable illustrates exactly how unlikely it is for Britain to secure a solid trade deal with the EU, or any other countries. Two years is simply not enough time:

Trade and brexit talks1

Do not forget that this is all provisional — if there are huge arguments over the terms of any one issue, it could prolong the talks on that single subject, which would put other things on the backburner.

For example, look at the section about Brexit divorce payments. 

EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly said that Britain is expect to pay nearly £50 billion “outstanding liabilities” to the EU. Germany and France allegedly wanted the divorce bill to be over £59 billion (€67 billion) but agreed on a compromise.

However, UK politicians demand a divorce deal that will only cost Britain £3 billion. This will likely cause a huge issue during talks. 

Various EU officials have already said that Britain should expect to be sued if it does not pay its bill.

Norbert Spinrath, Brexit spokesman for Mr Schulz’s Social Democrats, recently said: “We expect the British to do the honourable thing. If they don’t, the EU can take them to the international courts.”

So considering only 10-11 months of that timetable is assigned to negotiations on all subjects — and that is without delays — it looks highly unlikely that Britain would be able to secure a trade deal with the EU within two years.

ING also added that the CETA EU-Canada free trade deal “was seven years in the making, but was almost scuppered by the Wallonia regional government in Belgium.”

“All EU member states will have to approve the eventual UK-EU trade deal and some constitutions require regional parliaments within a country to do likewise. The fear is that the UK could effectively be held hostage as member states try to get concessions from the EU on issues unrelated to Brexit.”


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