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Johnson's departure: What this means for Brexit, the UK, and the EU - Our commentary

Our view on what the departure of the PM of the UK means to Brexit, the UK, and the EU. How did Brexit go under Johnson? Will the UK rejoin under a different PM?

The Guardian's Daniel Boffey reported, after the resignation of the UK Prime Minister that, based on a recent UK survey, most people think Brexit went badly and that Boris Johnson left a host of challenges for a future PM.

Brexit wise, the PM did break Theresa May's parliamentary deadlock and forged a trade treaty with the EU.

However, as the Guardian has reported, recent polling shows that support for Brexit in the UK has dropped, and Johnson's adversaries may suggest he leaves a tangle of worries rather than the "confidence and stability" he promised 18 months ago.

Jun 28, 2022

3551 GB adults surveyed

So, did the PM really get Brexit done? What did he achieve? Here is what we see:

Brexit is not done

The same survey made it clear that Britain's do not believe Brexit it's done:

1. The Northern Ireland Problem was not resolved

Johnson learned that the Brexit agreement created a regulatory border along the Irish Sea, as the government's impact study and everyone who understood the arrangement feared. This makes Britain-to-Northern Ireland imports more expensive. May had rejected Johnson's suggestion on constitutional grounds, telling the House of Commons that no British prime minister could propose dividing the UK into four nations. The DUP backed the position then and still. So it won't allow Northern Ireland's power-sharing institutions to function.

2. More Bad Blood with the EU than ever before.

As the Guardian reports, Georg Riekeles, diplomatic aide to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, said Johnson never seemed on top of the specifics, but his decision to repudiate the Northern Ireland provisions so soon after signing the deal astonished even the most hard-nosed officials in Brussels. "He extended what a British prime minister could do," Riekeles said. "He negotiated, signed, and obtained Commons approval for an international contract, then backed out the following day. "If the purpose was to placate a major portion of the Conservative party and tick Brexit boxes, they succeeded," Riekeles said. But not if the objective was to have the strongest relationships with the EU and appropriately finish Brexit - complete Brexit and establish a constructive relationship in which neighbours work together to tackle global challenges. Ties are tough, and the UK pays more than the EU." Source

3. Many Brexit Benefits

In exchange for independence from EU rules and regulations, Britain got a spate of trade accords that would provide access to new markets and a bonfire of regulations in the City of London that would make it more competitive. The benefits of Brexit can be studied in the official government paper: The Benefit of Brexit

4. No Benefits At All

But others argue that since June 23, 2016, there has been no Brexit dividend, prompting supporters to wonder if the conditions are optimal. Dan Hannan, a conservative MEP, recently said Britain should have stayed in the EU. Just two examples:

Example 1: A fishy affair

Meanwhile, Britain's fishing communities are unhappy with their meagre incomes and face severe export restrictions. The arrangements cause ongoing disagreement with the French government at a key period for security cooperation between the two main European defence powers. Need proof? Watch this ARTE documentary:

Example 2: The economic slowdown and Red Tape

According to a London School of Economics analysis, Britain's economic ties with the EU have "sharply declined" as small enterprises face more red tape such as customs declarations, licences and so on.

Moreover, since the announcement of the EU referendum the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) of the UK has been producing analysis and writing about the potential effects of Brexit on the economy and public finances. They have compiled our assumptions, judgements and analysis on this page:

The OBR said that the "Trade and Cooperation Agreement" (TCA) between the UK and EU would diminish long-term productivity by 4% compared to being in the EU.

But nothing, to my mind, says Red Tape more than a look at the UK's Border Operating Model. Businesses must follow the steps in the Border Operating Model, which has been updated to reflect the new timeline for the next stage of UK import requirements and to give more information about policies and procedures. It explains how difficult it now is to import and export into the UK with the UK government establishing complete border restrictions on EU goods entering the country. This means meeting full customs requirements including submitting declarations, as well as paying VAT and

excise duty where necessary. And if traders are importing Animal Products (ABP & POAO), traders must be prepared to submit pre-notification via IPAFFS. And you must hold a supplier declaration at the time you issue a statement of origin. All of which was NOT necessary before.

What future for Brexit under new Leadership?

NO to Rejoin, but a plan instead

But few in Westminster think the UK is about to rejoin the EU. Under Conservative Leadership, the poor relationship with the EU may not see significant improvements and the UK will drift further away as opposition and scepticism to the EU remains high. I don't expect a new approach.

Notably, under Labour, Britain will not go back into the EU. Keir Starmer, leader of the Opposition, made it clear last week: "We will not be joining the single market or the customs union. It would simply be a recipe for more division, it would distract us from taking on the challenges facing people, and it would ensure Britain remained stuck for another decade. What you will get under Labour is a plan".

Labours' Plan - How to make Brexit work

First, resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol. Labour will implement the protocol.

Labour would also eliminate most border checks under the Conservative Brexit proposal. With a new UK-EU veterinary agreement for agricultural commodities. They will also work with companies to let low-risk commodities into Northern Ireland without unnecessary checks. Second, eliminate unnecessary obstacles. Labour would expand the new veterinary agreement throughout the whole UK, benefitting exporters. Next, aid the world-class UK industry. This includes reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications, protecting our services' competitiveness, and restoring access to funding and essential research programmes. Fourth, secure Britain! The administration has long ignored European security. Putin's acts must wake us up. If one of us isn't secure, none of us are. Finally, fifth, Labour will invest in the UK. The last decade taught us that we can't simply stand by and let economic growth spread throughout our society.


Boris Johnson's departure as UK Prime Minister poses a slew of Brexit issues for the next Prime Minister. The Northern Ireland issue has not been addressed, and the United Kingdom may be left with a labyrinth of concerns rather than the trust and stability Johnson promised 18 months ago. In return for independence from EU laws and regulations, Britain believed it would get access to new markets and a bonfire of regulations in the City of London, making it more competitive, as stated in the official government study, The Benefits of Brexit.

However, academics and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have estimated that the UK's exit from the European Union would reduce long-term productivity by 4%. Businesses that export and import are being hampered by red tape. Nonetheless, few in Westminster believe the UK will soon rejoin the EU. The UK's relationship with the EU may not improve much, and the UK may drift farther apart if resistance and scepticism toward the EU remain strong. So we don't anticipate the UK government to take a fresh approach to Brexit, but what you will get under Labour is a strategy. Britain will neither rejoin the single market or the customs union under Labour. Instead, they claim to be resolving the Northern Ireland Protocol. They will also engage with businesses to reduce red tape and let low-risk goods into Northern Ireland without extra inspections.

So, even after Boris Johnson's resignation as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Brexit is far from done. The UK's relationship with the EU remains fragile over Northern Ireland and other issues, and this tension is unlikely to be resolved under new leadership.

Bumpy times ahead - even after Mr Brexit has left. Now, leave really means leave.


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