By Laura Savage,
Best for Britain's Campaigns Officer
When we talk about leaving the transition period without a deal, most of us picture one thing: massive queues of lorries at the border. It’s such a recognisable issue, the government has thrown every solution at it, from providing roadside portacabins, to declaring the independent republic of Kent.
But there are so many more, equally concerning, issues which will be created by leaving without a deal, or a plan, in place. So many, in fact, that I only have time to talk about five – there are ten more you can read in our new domestic impact report.
Vets and Pets
Brits love their pets. Maybe that’s why the government has included pet travel in their extensive ‘check, change, go’ advertising campaign to prepare the public for a no deal.
All countries have special rules which apply to animals or animal products crossing borders, designed to stop the spread of pests and diseases. When the UK was an EU member, we shared exactly the same standards of health for animals, so documentation could be very simple. But in a no deal scenario, your furry friends will need to receive an “animal health certificate” from a qualified vet four months before travel.
This may seem like a niche and manageable problem. Not many of us are desperate to take our cat to Greece. But this masks one of the most concerning aspects of a no deal.
It’s not just pets that will need a health check, its every single organic product we export to Europe – meat, milk, eggs or fish. We’ll need around two million of these certificates right off the bat. Each and every one of these certificated must be signed off by a qualified vet – and the UK is already under-resourced. Northern Ireland chief vet warning it could make agri-food trade with Europe “impossible”. No deal could mean piles of meat and produce going to waste as it waits for a certificate.
As the Affordable Food Deal campaign has highlighted since the summer, a no deal exit will mean many products we buy from Europe will be slapped with high tariffs. That means taxes on your favourite foods including dinner-time staples like tomatoes and pasta, or baked beans on toast.
We don’t have the climate or the infrastructure to produce enough of some foods, like tomatoes, olives, or durum wheat for pasta to meet our demands. We import nearly all our pasta from Europe - Brits got through nearly 350,000 tonnes just last year. That means there’s no way round it: from day one of no deal we will see the price of staple food items rise, in some cases by nearly a third.
For most, that’s an inconvenient expense, but for the millions who are already struggling to put food on the table it is simply unaffordable. When a coronavirus-induced global recession is happening around you, and your job is under threat, every penny matters. And a few more pounds on every shop could be the difference between a manageable Christmas or a spiral of debt.
As the threat of a no deal looms, the Prime Minister has rejected Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals into the holidays. We can only hope Johnson will make another screeching U-turn.
Whisky (industry) on the rocks
What makes scotch, Scotch? Well, it has to made in Scotland for one thing. It has to be matured in oak barrels, in Scotland, it must be made with only malted barley and water, and it must be a minimum of 40% proof. Any other way of making whisky cannot be called Scotch.
These rules are put in place by ‘Geographical Indicators’ (GIs). It’s a type of intellectual property which protects products. This stops just anyone coming along, making a brown liquor, and trading off Scotch’s reputation.
Currently, Scotch’s Geographical Indicator is registered in the EU and protected by EU intellectual property law. But on day one of no deal this protection will cease. While the UK is in the process of transferring GIs to UK law, it gets more complicated. EU law protected Scotch in trade deals with nations all over the world. The UK will have to renegotiate the protected status of Scotch in each and every one of its new trade deals post-Brexit.
Scotch industry experts foresee £1 billion of revenue being at risk. We could be inundated with cheap Scotch knock-offs which undercut British businesses. A vital part of Scotland’s culture could be watered down – and no one likes weak Scotch.
Business or pleasure?
For many people, the most obvious impact of a no deal Brexit would be more hassle on holiday. But beyond an extra headache for holidaymakers, UK workers will experience huge and maybe insurmountable barriers to working in Europe, at a time when co-operation and job security are more important than ever.
Let’s say you live in the UK, but your job regularly sends you to Denmark to do consulting. Under general EU rules, you will have to ensure you have an onward travelling ticket to show you mean to leave at some point, and some form of health insurance, as your European Health Insurance Card is no longer valid. You must have at least six months validity on your passport. You can stay only for 90 days within any 180-day period, which doesn’t give you enough time to complete your business.
Then, there is a whole set of other domestic rules which Denmark enforces. You have to apply for a special work permit through your company – but you’re self-employed. In that case you must provide proper proof of your intention to work in Denmark. As of yet, there is no clear guidance from either Denmark or the UK as to how you might do this – but it would probably involve a trip to the UK embassy.
An un-qualified disaster
Some jobs require exams – a lot of exams. British people who’ve studied for years to become lawyers, doctors or accountants have always been able to work in Europe. The EU used to recognise British professional qualifications, putting them on an equal footing as those trained in France or Spain or Germany. But from day one of no deal, this agreement will end.
Beyond the personal cost and stress of losing your livelihood, the toll this will take on UK trade in Europe will be huge. Financial and legal services make up a massive proportion of UK industry, and the impact on our already struggling economy will be profound.
But there is some good news. If this list has got you worried, you can send a message to the Prime Minister right now and urge him to reach a deal, for all the reasons above and many more.
If you want to make sure both sides reach a deal, send a letter to the Prime Minister and ask him to deliver the deal he promised.
Campaigns Officer, Best for Britain
Follow Best for Britain on Twitter at @BestforBritain