Article from July 2019

While the Brexit process effectively remains on hold until the Conservative party membership elects the country’s next Prime Minister, further warnings over the potential consequences of a no-deal withdrawal have been issued.

 The race to elect the next leader of the Conservative party, and the country, is now in full swing. And, whether it is Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson that is ultimately handed the keys to 10 Downing Street on 23 July, will clearly have a major impact upon how Brexit unfolds. However, at the moment the process is effectively in limbo.

The two potential candidates have both set out their Brexit agendas and, while there are some similarities in approach, there are also some significant differences. For example, both men would attempt to renegotiate a deal with the EU and both would be prepared to leave without a deal. However, while Mr Johnson has stated that the UK must leave on 31 October ‘deal or no deal’, Mr Hunt is more flexible suggesting the date is a ‘fake deadline’.

Interestingly, Theresa May has refused to guarantee unconditional support for her successor’s Brexit strategy, whomever and whatever that might be. This reluctance vividly demonstrates the difficulties that the new Prime Minister will undoubtedly face when trying to build a consensus across the House of Commons for any potential new deal that they may be able to negotiate with the EU.

Meanwhile, Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, has strongly urged the two prospective leadership candidates to avoid a no-deal Brexit. The minister said that Japanese firms were ‘very concerned’ about the potential impact on their operations if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal. Mr Kono also stressed that trade talks between the two countries could only take place once the UK had actually left the EU.