Brexit - What it means for you and your business

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JPH Law’s Kate Ervine reflects on Brexit – what it means for you and your business

Having finally reached the conclusion of the EU referendum campaign, it has become apparent that the vote itself was not the end of the matter; it was only the end of the beginning.

That is because voting for Brexit and realising Brexit are two entirely different things, with the latter coloured by legal, and more importantly, political considerations. With this in mind let us take a look at what this means for you and your farming business.

Legal position

As outlined in our article last month, the legal route to Brexit is via Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. If and when the Article is triggered a general two year period of negotiation is commenced which dictates the “divorce” settlement (although, interestingly, this settlement does not necessarily extend to agreeing a trade deal, a vital component of any Brexit for our farming sector).

The referendum result itself does not trigger Article 50. In fact, the result is not legally binding on the government. It is, technically, only advisory of public opinion.

The practical effect of this is that there may still be political manoeuvring to attempt to prevent Brexit, or, for instance, to call a second referendum to approve its terms.

It is the role of the British government alone to trigger Article 50. They cannot be forced to do so by the European Union. This has led to a political impasse with competing interests at play.

At this stage the Government do not wish to trigger Article 50 and start a formal two-year clock leading inevitably to Brexit whether an agreement is reached or not, preferring instead to seek informal talks with the EU.

However, from the European perspective, it is in their interest to exert political pressure on the British government to commence the formal process, as entertaining informal talks, which could go on indefinitely, only leads to continued economic uncertainty.

Effect on farming

In the short term, the effect of this legal framework and these competing political interests on farming is simple: nothing changes.

Until Brexit actually occurs, the agricultural industry remains entitled to EU subsidies and free access to the EU marketplace and workers, but is still subject to EU regulations.

Long term, if and when Brexit occurs, it is simply impossible to say how farming will be affected.

Any new deal will be subject to the same political considerations and priorities that are currently at play; and, if we have learned anything from the referendum result, it is that politics is impossible to predict.

Kate Ervine is a Director in Commercial Property and Probate at Portadown based Solicitors Firm JPH Law Limited.

For further information on JPH Law visit: www,jphlaw.co.uk or contact Kate on kate@jphlaw.co.uk T 028 38 333 333