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Oil and gas sector logistics expert warns businesses about effective no-deal Brexit in 2020.

Published by , Assistant Editor
Oilfield Technology,

An oil and gas sector logistics expert has warned the industry's businesses trading with the EU that Britain could still be effectively heading for a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020.

Adam Johnson, Director of Leeds-based Tudor International Freight, said this was the logical conclusion to be drawn from recent statements by government representatives such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove.

The government has said that if a majority Conservative administration takes power after the general election on 12 December 2019, the UK will leave the EU - under the terms of the draft withdrawal agreement concluded at October's European Council meeting - on 31 January 2020.

Both the Prime Minister and Mr Gove have now added that the subsequent standstill transition period will cease on its current end date of 31 December 2020. This is despite the draft withdrawal agreement specifically allowing for the period to be extended for up to two years, provided this is agreed by 1 July.

Mr Johnson said the government's timescale would demand negotiating mandates, covering all relevant areas, being agreed on both sides by early next year.

Another complicating factor for the negotiations, according to Mr Johnson, was the Prime Minister's wish for Britain to leave the EU's single market and customs union, in favour of a new free-trade agreement. This would allow Britain to diverge from EU regulations and make its own trade deals with other nations in the future.

Mr Johnson added that legal texts would need to be complete next autumn for the ratification process to be finalised by the year-end. This rubber-stamping would demand approval not just by the UK and European parliaments, but by all EU national parliaments and some of its regional assemblies too.

Mr Johnson said reaching this sort of agreement even if the transition period was extended for the two years would be a challenge. The respected Institute for Government think-tank had suggested that four years would be a more realistic overall timeframe for such a deal and some experts had predicted five to seven years would be needed.

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