How a no-deal Brexit could affect you
Britain will leave the European Union without a deal on March 29 unless a withdrawal agreement is approved or Article 50 is delayed - we look at how this eventuality could affect you in Suffolk.
If we leave without a negotiated exit, several aspects of British life will change in an instant.
Border checks could be re-introduced, transport and trade between the UK and the EU would be impacted, and there would be no transition period – which forms part of the deal Prime Minister Theresa May fought for earlier this year.
A no-deal Brexit could also affect everyday life for people in Suffolk and north Essex.
We spoke to a number of organisations about the possible impact of a no-deal on their operations – and how this may affect you.
Health and medicines
The Department of Health has stockpiled six weeks’ worth of drugs for the public in case of shortages of medicines usually imported from the EU.
Supplies of prescriptions and vaccines in Suffolk are being closely monitored, and were recently the subject of a risk assessment by the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) as part of their preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
CCG bosses are also preparing for a potential increase in demand associated with a no-deal Brexit, and are drawing up ‘incident management’ plans with other NHS providers against EU risk assessment scenarios.
Suffolk’s hospital chiefs are working with staff from the EU to ensure they are aware of the settlement scheme. The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), in charge of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, has been asked to review and update its business contingency plans – and an exercise to test these takes place next month.
Manufacturers across the UK are stockpiling food in case of a no-deal Brexit – prompted by fears of ‘border gridlock’, where lorries may become stuck at ports thanks to increased documentation.
Councils across Suffolk and Essex are being encouraged to draw up plans for possible food shortages, although experts believe severe supply problems are unlikely.
This is because the UK is around 60% self-sufficient in food production. The remaining 40% comes from imports, and about three-quarters of that is from the EU. Additional checks at ports could slow things down, experts believe.
East Anglia is a major producer of cereals, vegetables, pigs and poultry, so there could be opportunities to satisfy more of the UK’s domestic demand.
But that is if producers can continue to be viable without the EU’s farm subsidies, which will be phased out after Brexit.
Farming leaders say a no-deal exit would be “catastrophic” for the region’s food producers – with a temporary ban on exports of meat, dairy, and eggs to the EU – until the UK is listed as an approved third country.
A senior source in the East Anglian freight forwarding community recently downplayed the effects of a no-deal Brexit on port economies like Felixstowe.
He said he could not understand why transport secretary Chris Grayling had pledged an extra £140m for extra ferries to sail across the English channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
He believes the only potential issue is extra documentation, which would slow everything down. As Felixstowe is a deep sea port receiving trade mostly from the Far East and the Americas, it will “hardly be hampered” by a hard or no-deal Brexit, the source said. “A no-deal Brexit won’t be an issue for Felixstowe, because if the freight needs to be customs cleared, there is plenty of time to arrange it,” he added.
To leave the EU with no deal would automatically bar British boats from fishing in EU waters – and EU boats from fishing off Britain.
Therefore, more fish will likely be landed by British vessels, leading to a drop in prices and a cheaper fish-and-chip supper.
However, there is a catch – two thirds of the fish we eat is imported, and the cost of this could rise if trade deals are not worked out. Groups have been set up to kick-start the industry in the region again – the fist meeting of the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries (REAF) steering group was held last month.
More than 61,000 people work in manufacturing in Suffolk and Norfolk. The worry is that, as in agriculture, EU workers may not continue in the industry – and as UK workers generally expect to be paid more, it could become too expensive for companies to operate in the region.
For the man on the street, what this means is that wages and overall costs go up, with a likely impact on the price of the final product.
So, whatever you are buying, from cars to boilers, the price is likely to rise.
Suffolk police chiefs say they are working with Suffolk’s LRF to plan for all scenarios, including a no-deal Brexit.
Neighbouring forces – such as Norfolk – have been warned to be ‘uniform-ready’ and potentially assist frontline policing duties in the event of a fall-out from a no-deal Brexit.
Fuel shortages could spark protests, it is feared, though police say they are ready for every eventuality.
Thousands of troops are being made available for a ‘no-deal scenario’ – with the Ministry of Defence promising to deploy 3,500 service personnel.
Approximately 10% of these will be reservists – which means some could be from Colchester or potentially smaller units in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft – and they can be called upon from February 10, according to Government acts.
They are being moved into positions in the event of a no deal because the effects of an EU exit are unpredictable in this scenario.
There are concerns that a no-deal Brexit could spark problems with plane travel – at least on a long-term basis.
So if you are planning to jet off to the EU via airports such as Stansted, government chiefs are warning people to check travel documents in advance.
Plans are in motion to ensure if we do leave without a deal, air services will continue between the UK and the EU – at least on a temporary basis.
But people wishing to travel after the leave date of March 29 should have at least 15 months left on their passports from the date of arrival in an EU country.
Those with fewer than 15 months left may be turned away at customs.
The government published guidance on how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal in late 2018.