No deal Brexit risks queues at the border and food shortages, new academic report finds

Published by  Communications

On 23rd Sep 2020

Lorries queued on the M20 motorway in Kent

The most immediate and visible impact of the UK failing to get a deal with the EU will be seen at the border, with risks of queues and shortages of food, a new report by academic think tank UK in a Changing Europe finds.

Prof Hussein Kassim is a professor of politics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and a senior fellow with UK in a Changing Europe, which compiled the report, ‘What would no deal mean?

According to the new findings, no deal will also mean hassle for British citizens who will need to do more preparation before travelling to the EU. This includes the need to bring an international driving permit and green card to drive or take a car to EU countries. European Health Insurance Cards will no longer be valid, so travel insurance will be required. Older travellers, or people with pre-existing conditions, may find it harder and more costly to travel.

No deal will also mean no agreement on aviation or other transport links; no agreement on fishing and no agreement on security and judicial cooperation. It might also mean the UK is not given the go-ahead on data adequacy or on equivalence for financial services – decisions that are down to the EU to make alone, which it has linked to the negotiations. 

Prof Kassim said: “No deal is often presented as an unproblematic or even as a desirable outcome of the current negotiations between the UK and the EU. 

“What we do in this report is to examine what the consequences would be in areas of everyday life that matter to us as citizens. There is also important coverage of issues for business and specific sectors of the economy including agriculture and fisheries.”

The continuing impacts of Covid-19 may mitigate or obscure – politically or economically – the impact of no deal. But in the short run no deal will be bad news for a UK recovery and in the long run Brexit is likely to be more significant than Covid-19. UK in a Changing Europe modelling with the LSE of the impact of a no-deal Brexit suggests the total cost to the UK economy over the longer term will be two to three times as large as that implied by the Bank of England’s forecast for the impact of Covid-19.

The UK Internal Market Bill will make a no-deal outcome considerably more problematic in Northern Ireland. The Protocol was devised to ensure that, even if there was no UK–EU deal, there would be no physical border on the island of Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement would be upheld. If the UK explicitly rejects the Protocol it has signed, it is hard to see an outcome that does not lead to significant political turbulence. 

No-deal impacts can and will be partly mitigated by effective preparation. But this challenging task has been made significantly harder by the diversion of people and resources within government to deal with the response to Covid-19 and by the strain the pandemic has placed on businesses across the country. Brexit has fallen way down their list of priorities. 

In many respects, the outcomes in a no-deal scenario are close to the deal the prime minister wants. Any deal will be relatively ‘thin’ given the UK’s red lines. Both sides accept that it will cover little more than tariff- and quota-free access for most goods. 

Consequently, deal or no deal, there will inevitably be disruption on 1 January and there will be significant new barriers to trade involving customs checks, regulatory barriers, an end to mutual recognition across a wide variety of products and services. But no deal will be more disruptive because it means tariffs on trade both ways. That will affect producers in exposed sectors, especially cars and agrifood, but also consumers. All businesses who trade with EU will be affected by extra bureaucracy. 

The EU may implement some mitigating measures – but the UK cannot depend on them, particularly if the talks break down acrimoniously. If they do, and especially if the UK proceeds with the UK Internal Market Bill, the EU is less likely to put in place the unilateral mitigations that it had ready last year in areas such as air and road transport. There is a risk each side might seek to maximise economic damage to the other in retaliation - so there’s potential for significant disruption.

Other impacts of no deal include:

•    further straining relations between the devolved governments and the UK government 
•    making police cooperation harder due to loss of access to EU databases
•    disruption to parts of the economy that have been resilient to Covid-19, not least food supply chains. 

Prof Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “While the prime minister said no deal is a ‘good outcome’ our report shows that it may lead to significant disruption and will have a significant negative economic impact.

“As significant will be the political fallout of no deal, particularly with the UK and EU, but also inside the UK, particularly Northern Ireland, and internationally too.”

Latest News

A Bahama Warbler photographed in a tree.
09 Feb 2023

Endangered Bahamas bird may be lost from island following hurricane

The endangered Bahama Warbler may be surviving on just one island following Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in 2019, according to researchers at the University of...

Read more >
A man having a blood test administered by a healthcare professional.
08 Feb 2023

The new prostate cancer blood test with 94 per cent accuracy

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have helped develop a new blood test to detect prostate cancer with greater accuracy than current methods.

Read more >
A woman in a wheelchair looks through a microscope.
07 Feb 2023

UEA launches lab accessibility project

Researchers at the University of East Anglia are launching a project to make laboratories more accessible for people with disabilities. 

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
A woman in a wheelchair looks through a microscope.
07 Feb 2023

UEA launches lab accessibility project

Researchers at the University of East Anglia are launching a project to make laboratories more accessible for people with disabilities. 

Read more >
Kelly Edmunds presenting a lecture
07 Feb 2023

Nationally recognised UEA lecturer joins stellar line-up for Norwich Science Festival 

Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will be taking centre stage at Norwich Science Festival, which begins on Saturday (11 February).  

Read more >
Hanya Yanagihara. She is wearing a black top and necklaces.
02 Feb 2023

Global literary icon Hanya Yanagihara set to make rare UK appearance at UEA Live

Hanya Yanagihara, author of the million-copy bestseller A Little Life, will be welcomed to the UEA campus in March to discuss her latest novel success – To...

Read more >
The RRS Sir David Attenborough in the Arctic.
01 Feb 2023

RRS Sir David Attenborough begins polar science trials in Antarctica

Researchers from the University of East Anglia have joined the UK’s new polar ship RRS Sir David Attenborough as it begins its polar science trials in Antarctica...

Read more >
A forest fire in the Amazon rainforest.
27 Jan 2023

Human activity has degraded more than a third of remaining Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest has been degraded by a much greater extent than scientists previously believed, according to a new study.

Read more >
A Vitamin D tablet being held up to the sun.
26 Jan 2023

80-year-old medical mystery that caused baby deaths solved

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have solved an 80-year-old medical mystery that causes kidney damage in children and can be fatal in babies.

Read more >
James Bevan presenting at UEA. He is wearing glasses, a black jacket and grey trousers.
24 Jan 2023

UEA praised for 'outstanding' work on climate research

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, praised UEA’s outstanding work on climate research and highlighted the need to focus on climate...

Read more >