Usually with any major political happening, a look back at the first 100 days is de rigeur for journalists keen to fill column inches. However, with so much going on including a FIFA meltdown (almost), allegations of cronyism in Government and a worldwide pandemic, not to mention Colin the Caterpillar in the dock, the first 100 days of Brexit have passed with hardly a raised eyebrow. In seeking to redress this oversight I set out some observations on what conclusions we may be able to draw from the first 100 days of Brexit.
It's as clear as mud
Although a clearer picture of the consequences of leaving the EU is starting to emerge, most commentators agree that we are not in the calm waters needed to assess the impact of Brexit as opposed to the impact of other current worldwide events. For example, while the figures for exports and imports in January showed the steepest decline since records began, it may well be that other factors, including the impact of lockdowns in the UK and EU, had a more significant impact. Similarly, with little leisure travel occurring it isn't possible to gauge how tourist revenue will be affected by the UK's newly single status.
It's not as bad as it could have been
Some of the direst predictions have not been realised although, as noted above, this may just be a timing issue. By way of example, many in the City warned that Vote Leave would result in an exodus of talent from the City with PwC putting the figure at 100,000 jobs in financial services moving to the EU in the short term. In fact, the figures are currently lower, with one survey showing that, as at the end of March, only 7,600 financial services jobs had moved to the EU.
Are we there yet?
It seems we are on the brink of a number of decisions which could affect the impact of Brexit on the UK. A good example is the Adequacy Decision to allow the continued flow of data between the EU and the UK. Although there are some positive signs, with the decision being provided by the EU in draft form, it still needs to be approved by EU members states before it becomes effective. Similarly, an agreement in outline was reached at the end of March between the UK and the EU on a financial services framework for voluntary regulatory cooperation. The formal drafting of the deal and ratification on both sides has yet to take place.
Kicking the can down the road
Some of the fudging that went on in the final weeks and months of negotiation is now coming home to roost. Northern Ireland is, of course, a case in point and there are other examples where an 'agreement to agree' at a later date means that dates for implementation are being pushed ever further out. For example, the UK has unilaterally extended the grace period for checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland causing much anger in Europe and giving rise to a threat of legal action from the EU.
So, the conclusion after 100 days of Brexit is that it's too early to draw conclusions with any confidence. This isn't surprising since, after a marriage lasting 47 years and an outline divorce settlement agreed at the eleventh hour, it was always likely that the first few months of separation would be rocky and not a little bit tetchy. Maybe by 200 days of Brexit it will all be much clearer but only time will tell.