This is my last Brexit Briefing.
Because it is the last it is longer than usual. A long goodbye if you will. Over the past 5 years I have written 130 of them, following the twists and turns of the Brexit saga, as various UK actors came and went upon the stage, generally full of sound and fury, but often signifying little. My little offerings were nothing compared to those of Chris Grey or Tony Connelly but people seemed to like them, for all their shortcomings.
Brexit and Borders
For all the twists and turns, for all the complications, the story of Brexit is a simple story of the UK trying to have its cake and eat it, of trying to have all the benefits of access to the internal European market with none of the obligations. This it has singularly failed to achieve. For the first time since WWII a western European country has decided to rebuild business, trade and travel borders between itself and its single biggest export market in the name of a reasserted national sovereignty.
The extent to which these borders have been rebuilt has been hidden from full view by Covid and the severe restrictions on international travel. But as the tide of Covid recedes, the nakedness of the new restrictions will quickly become clear. Landing at an EU airport British travellers will no longer be in the fast-track “EU citizens” queue and will need their passports to be valid for a further six months.
They may also be asked to show proof of health insurance and the financial means to cover their stay. It will become increasingly difficult to organise last-minute business trips, on which a great deal of services exports depend. Queueing always takes time, eats into your holiday, adds costs to your business trip.