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Brexit: Another Speech… More Challenges

Brexit: Another Speech… More Challenges

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18 Oct 2017

Author(s): Gerhard Erasmus

The British Prime Minister has made another important speech on her government’s Brexit plans in an address to Parliament on Monday, 9 October 2017. It was meant to explain her views about the “new, deep and special partnership with the European Union” (which she announced on 22 September 2017 in the Italian city of Florence) and on how to achieve this unique goal. Business, in particular, needs certainty about the way forward.

What exactly does she envisage? What should now happen in terms of practical steps and technical preparations? Is a comprehensive plan emerging? Do future relationships with developing nations figure in her plans? The Prime Minister is of the view that now “the ball is in their court”, but will the EU accept her game plan?

When unpacking the views (and wishes) of the British Prime Minister it is important not to lose sight of the fact that Brexit is about very complicated negotiations for which there are no precedents. In the jargon of the EU: there is no acquis. And Brussels has not yet shown its hand as to how a post Brexit trade relationship with London may look. The EU has repeatedly indicated that there must first be binding agreements about the future rights of EU citizens, the settlement of Britain’s divorce bill, and the borders of Ireland, before a new trade relationship with the UK can even be discussed.

The outcome of the Brexit process is uncertain. It will remain so for some time to come. Third parties such as the SACU member states will be affected by these uncertainties, which include several legal issues. They should design their own strategic responses, discuss them with both Brussels and London, and take the initiative for implementing appropriate interim arrangements where required.


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