Brexit Timetable Looks Impossible and Softer Brexit Unlikely – New Publications

13 June 2017

The Scottish Centre on European Relations today launches two publications focused on the prospects for Brexit amidst the continuing political uncertainty.

The Brexit Timetable

The Brexit Timetable: Key Questions and Challenges for the UK and Scotland is a new SCER Policy Paper by Dr Kirsty Hughes (Director, SCER) and Dr Tobias Lock (Co-Director, Edinburgh Europa Institute). It sets out what has to happen before 30 March 2019 if Brexit is to happen on time and not to go off the rails.

The challenges of negotiating an exit deal, outline framework of a trade deal, and a transition deal before end 2018 to allow time for ratification look almost impossible even in much better political circumstances than now prevail in the UK. There is also an unrecognised interdependence between the need for new domestic legislation – the Great Repeal bill, new bills on migration, trade, agriculture and more – and the Brexit talks. Unless the UK defines its interests and new policy and legal structures for all these issues, and successfully gets all this legislation through Westminster and the devolved assemblies, it will not be possible to negotiate a new trade deal.

Dr Hughes said:

“The Brexit timetable looked extremely hard to meet for a government with a clear Brexit policy and a workable majority. In current circumstances, it looks close to impossible.”

Dr Lock said:

“If the timetable falls apart, then either the EU27 and UK agree to an extension of the talks (as allowed under Article 50) or the UK will simply leave without a deal in March 2019. The latter would create legal, political and economic uncertainty on an unparalleled scale – the phrase ‘the WTO cliff’ does not really do justice to such a scenario.”

Brexit Reality Check

Soft, Hard, Jobs, Open Brexit? A Reality Check – in her new comment piece, Kirsty Hughes argues that in their rush for a softer Brexit, UK politicians are ignoring the reality that there is no intermediate deal on offer from the EU27 that allows single market membership and a more controlled UK migration policy.

Kirsty Hughes said:

“The EU27 will offer the UK a trade deal like Canada – with a major negative impact on our exports of goods and services – or we can be in the European Economic Area like Norway observing full free movement of people. There is no intermediate model or option on offer – not even if the UK adopts a cross-party approach to talks.”

Contact: Kirsty Hughes and Tobias Lock can be contacted by email

The Scottish Centre on European Relations is an independent and unaligned EU think tank, based in Edinburgh.