This week marks the start for most people of the long hard slog back into the world of work after, hopefully, enjoying a complete break over Christmas and the New Year. Obviously for many people, emergency workers, key front line support staff, retailers and transport workers it’s been business as usual as they’ll have continued to undertake their duties and rotas whilst many of us enjoy the festivities.
For those of us that have had some time off it has been a bit of an odd break this year.
Just a couple of weeks ago, in the immediate aftermath of the election the air was filled with all sorts of political predictions, promises hanging in the air and many pundits forecasting huge upheavals in the months ahead. And then nothing really as everyone effectively switched off, logged off, put their pens down, possibly wanting a break from it all.
So, what awaits us in the coming weeks and months? Over the next few days I’ll be giving an update on all sorts of things that we’ll be working on as it may well be a New Year but we still have old problems to deal with.
First up Brexit.
Cast your mind back to 19th December (seems a long time ago doesn’t it?) but that was the day the Brexit Withdrawal Bill passed its second reading by 124 votes and it was all but confirmed we would be leaving the EU on 31st January – 3 weeks from now. Over the next few days the Bill will go through the Lords and back to the Commons for a final reading. And then the ‘fun’ really starts…
What has become increasingly clear over the whole sorry saga that has engulfed this country for far too long is that just getting this Bill through Parliament and actually enacting Article 50, leaving the EU, has been seen by many people as the end of Brexit – a neat end which ties everything up and leaves us to get on with it. Unfortunately the reality is that this is just the start.
Once the 31st of January has been and gone, the transition phase starts and then the real work begins on getting trade deals in place by the end of the year. No small task and so important as the default ‘safety net’ World Trade Organisation terms don’t appear that attractive. What happens to all the cross border migration laws? The Irish question still remains. Will this trigger more radical calls for a second Scottish Referendum? The list goes on.
People often ask what will happen and honestly at this stage it is still impossible to say. We’re on alert for the recommencement of our “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign once things become a bit clearer. The only element of certainty that the election result gave as regards Brexit was that we would leave on 31st January – 10 months after the original leave date of 29th March last year. That there’s a delay even with such a momentous event as this should come as no surprise as Brexit, like everything else has fallen victim to delays and missed deadlines – a lot like major infrastructure projects….. which links nicely into the next issue under the spotlight when we have a look at transport.
If you want to find out more about what the election result means for Greater Manchester book on our next Future Economies Seminars run in partnership with MMU on 16th January here at the Chamber, full details here.