Nov 7, 2019

The U.K. may not escape Brexit limbo even after the election

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.K. is now in election mode, with Parliament having been dissolved and the U.K. press running banner headlines about, um, kulaks.

The state of play: More than 60 MPs have decided not to run for re-election given the toxicity of the current political debate.

Britain is due to leave the EU on Jan. 31. If it does so on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's terms, it will then enter a transitional period, during which it will have to negotiate a trade agreement with the rest of Europe. That's a lot easier said than done.

One possible result is so-called Brino:

"When Brexiter trade fantasies crash into reality, expect a new scenario to emerge: Brino (Brexit in name only) for now. Brino entails the U.K. leaving the EU but staying in the single market and customs union, and paying into the European budget, until it can devise a beneficial Brexit. Since there isn’t one, Brino could stick for years."
Simon Kuper, writing in the Financial Times

The Brino scenario is the closest thing that Britain can get to "Remain" while still technically leaving the EU. Johnson is adamant that he won't let that happen, but it's not clear that he'll be able to command enough of a majority to get what he wants.

The bottom line: No one particularly expects Johnson to stick to his promises, especially if he remains prime minister of a minority government. An exit fudge whereby Britain leaves in name only, with constant extensions for further trade negotiations, would be a very European solution to the Brexit conundrum.

Go deeper

Boris Johnson vows not to extend Brexit transition period past 2020

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The U.K.'s Conservative Party announced in its election manifesto published Sunday that if it wins a majority on Dec. 12, its government will seek to pass Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal by Jan. 31 and negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union before December 2020.

Why it matters: The manifesto rules out extending the Brexit transition period, during which the country will continue to follow EU rules as the two sides hammer out a permanent trade deal. EU politicians have expressed skepticism that a comprehensive free trade agreement could be negotiated in such a short time period, meaning that the U.K. could crash out of the bloc in 2020 without a deal.

Go deeperArrowNov 24, 2019

Only poll to predict 2017 U.K. election result forecasts huge Boris win

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party is on pace to win a significant majority in the U.K.'s high-stakes election on Dec. 12, according to a major poll of 100,000 voters conducted by YouGov.

Why it matters: The so-called MRP poll, which takes local factors into account to provide a highly detailed prediction, was the only one to accurately predict that Theresa May would lose her majority in the shock 2017 election. If Johnson does indeed earn a majority of 68 seats, as the poll projects, he would finally be able to pass his Brexit deal and take the U.K. out of the European Union — 3.5 years after the 2016 referendum.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019

Brexit's effect on business

Data: IHS Markit/CIPS; Note: November 2019 reading is based on 85% of respondent's data; Chart: Axios Visuals

A closely watched survey of private sector activity showed the bleakest outlook for U.K. businesses since July 2016 — which was right after the country voted to leave the European Union.

Why it matters: The Brexit back-and-forth has left businesses in a tailspin amid a softening global economy.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019