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Legislation News: Brexit – what happens now?

Introducing our new regular columnist on legislation issues — Chris Whitehouse, Chairman of The Whitehouse Consultancy

It was not the result that most, including many in the leave camp, expected. On June 23 Britain voted to leave the European Union. A few hours later, the Prime Minister announced that someone else will lead the UK during its negotiations on exiting the EU.

So the question now is, what on earth will the world look like for the natural healthcare sector once these negotiations are finally complete? And when will they even be complete?

I wish I could give you a straight answer to both of those questions. All that is clear is that everything is unclear and with the forthcoming negotiations between the UK and the EU nobody really has a clue what will happen and when.

I have previously speculated that the EU could turn vengeful. A harsh settlement that leaves the UK without preferential access to the EU’s single market would be intended, as Voltaire said when the British hanged an incompetent Admiral in the 1700s, “to encourage the others” – no other major EU country wants other Member States to follow the British lead and try to depart.

The impact this would have on the natural healthcare sector would be considerable and damaging. If companies wanted to sell to the EU, and even perhaps just in the UK, they would have to follow all the rules they follow today but with no say in making them. The UK would also be forced to accept free movement of people and pay into the EU Budget; two things that Leave campaigned strongly against. The UK could just reject a deal but then what? Tariffs would be slapped on British products, damaging exporters and raising prices at home. It is not a pleasant alternative.

On the other hand, the EU and the UK could swiftly strike a deal that both are able to sell to their publics. There would be some curbs on freedom of movement, perhaps, and though the British would pay something towards the EU budget this would be in return for access to the single market. They would have no say in developing the rules for this market of course, and UK law would have to reflect EU law in many instances, but it would be a seemingly sensible transaction between two groups keen to avoid a long period of uncertainty.

Perhaps the best thing that we can do is hope for the second scenario but plan for the first. Leaving the EU was always going to be a leap into the dark for the UK. Well, we’ve leapt. Let’s just hope we’re going to land safely.

Follow The Whitehouse Consultancy on Twitter at @WhitehouseSE1 and find out more

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