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16


Future of Retail — The CFO Issue


government will call it) sometime after March 2019 when the UK is not a member of the single market, customs union, etc. We cannot entirely rule out a position where there is no deal for the UK leaving the EU and the UK fi nds itself facing a proverbial “cliff edge”, where it suddenly fi nds itself outside the EU, outside the single market and outside the customs union, possibly with its international trade being governed by solely by WTO rules. The act of triggering Article 50 does


not cause signifi cant changes in the legal relationship between the UK and the EU. The UK is still bound by EU law up to and until the date of its departure at the end of March 2019, unless all 28 countries (including the UK) agree otherwise, which is considered unlikely. Politically, the triggering of Article 50 marks


the end of the phony war, punctuated by talk of second EU referendum, early elections and multiple challenges through the courts. This is not to say that we can entirely rule out a second EU referendum, a General Election before 2020 or one of the legal challenges derailing the Brexit process, but psychologically and as a matter of process the triggering of Article 50 does mark a signifi cant change. We can expect to see an immediate fl ash


point in the summer with the UK arguing that the terms of its future trade deal with the EU can be negotiated simultaneously with the terms – particularly the fi nancial terms – of the divorce settlement, with the EU arguing that the trade deal can only be agreed after. The UK may fi nd that it is forced, not least for reasons of continuing to court the support of key media outlets, to walk out, at least as a negotiating tactic. One cannot underestimate the political


challenges facing Theresa May in 2017. The UK government has not even indicated that it will need to make hard choices: it cannot both have its cake and eat it, whatever the Foreign Secretary may say. As the Chancellor’s U-turn over the Budget tax rise for the self-employed showed, there is little ability for the UK government to be able to follow through on hard choices it will need to make in tax or on Brexit.


Estimates vary, but currently anything up to 30-40% of business regulation is derived from European regulations.


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