The U.K. government is set to meet Thursday morning for three-hours to discuss the eventuality of a “no-deal” Brexit. The meeting takes place at a time when the government is also releasing more than 20 documents, outlining some more preparations in case the U.K. leaves the European Union in March 2019 without a deal. This is not the first set of papers outlining what will happen in case the U.K. and the EU do not reach a deal. In late August, the U.K. government said that businesses should prepare for higher barriers to trade, more red tape and potentially higher costs too, if Brexit talks collapse. All these steps are part of a wider attempt to step up works for the worst-case scenario. The EU has also strengthened its preparations in case the U.K. leaves the bloc abruptly.
The U.K.’s Brexit chief, Dominic Raab, warned on Wednesday that the U.K. will not pay the so-called divorce bill, if there is no final deal over Brexit. Raab wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the £39 billion ($50.82 billion) the U.K. owes to the EU, due to previous policy agreements, will not be repaid if there is no deal.
Brexit negotiators want to conclude talks by the end of November to ensure that there is enough time to get the deal approved by all Parliaments. However, there are divergences about their future relationship, including what’s going to happen to the Irish border. This has prevented negotiations from being concluded.
Political analysts and investors have become particularly worried about the prospects of a no-deal over the summer, following several comments from U.K. officials, including the Governor of the Bank of England. Mark Carney who said in early August that the risk of a no-deal is “uncomfortably high.”
The sterling has lost nearly 10 percent of its value against the dollar since Brexit. The currency has seen a lot of volatility since the referendum vote on June 23. While the initial moves were dramatic, plunging from the highs of $1.50 to a 31-year low of $1.32, the pound continues to remain under pressure at current levels of $1.30. So far, on Thursday morning, sterling seemed muted to the Brexit developments.
Despite the preparations for a no-deal, both the U.K. and the EU are still saying they are working towards a deal. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union address on Wednesday said that the EU stands ready to work “day and night” to find an agreement with the U.K. over Brexit.
However, Juncker also warned that the U.K. needs to be reasonable. “But we also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position as a member State,” he said.
Meanwhile, Brexit chief Raab told the BBC Thursday morning that Brexit talks will be intensified over the coming weeks and that he is confident that a deal will be achieved.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s said Thursday morning that an abrupt break-up between the EU and the U.K. would be “credit negative for a range of sectors.”
“The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union without an agreement to replace existing arrangements, a risk that has risen materially in recent months, would damage the U.K. economy and be credit negative for a range sectors and debt issuers in the UK and Europe,” Moody’s said in a statement.
Moody’s outlined that U.K. based companies in the automotive industry, airlines, chemical sectors and aerospace are set to be the most impacted, in a no-deal scenario.
Earlier this week, the U.K.’s finance minister, Philip Hammond told the BBC, that the Brexit uncertainty is hurting the economy.