Why the Brexit Deal Has Become Such a Tangled Mess

On Tuesday, President Trump said the withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union designed to codify Brexit “sounds like a great deal for the EU.” This reflected the majority of political thought across Great Britain over the last fortnight, which has panned the agreement Prime Minister Theresa May obtained:

At some point, negotiations with the EU always seemed destined to hit a reality check. The gap between what many British leaders want and what May could deliver has placed the United Kingdom in the midst of high-stakes political drama with a far-from-certain outcome. . .

From the outset of the treaty process, the EU held most of the negotiating cards, for two big reasons. First, British business fears the prospect of a “no-deal” Brexit. Under this scenario, the U.K. would exit the European Union next March 29—the date currently scheduled for Britain’s withdrawal—with no agreement in place governing future relations between the two entities. Overnight, border and customs checks would go into place, and tariffs would be re-imposed on British goods entering the EU and vice versa.

A no-deal Brexit has terrified the business community, ranging from the banking sector, where London’s reputation as a financial capital relies in large part on its EU ties, to concerns about supply chain interruptions. To give but one example of the uncertainty plaguing industry, the head of Britain’s Food and Drink Federation testified before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that “warehouses around the U.K. for frozen and chilled food are ‘for all practical purposes booked out at the moment’”—businesses are stockpiling supplies to try and avoid disruptions next spring.

A no-deal Brexit also would create political uncertainties in Northern Ireland. Without an agreement governing customs between Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom exiting the EU) and the Republic of Ireland (a sovereign state that will remain in the EU), a no-deal Brexit could lead to the re-imposition of a “hard border” between the two nations. (Read more from “Why the Brexit Deal Has Become Such a Tangled Mess” HERE)

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