After over three and a half years of talking, fighting, delays and fearmongering, Brexit is going to happen on 31st January.
This is a cause for celebration for some, but for others it represents the start of great uncertainty – or worse still – the start of decades of decline for the UK. This may come down to the deal that we agree, or if there is a deal at all.
Which way it goes will still be debated and argued over the years to come, but what will happen after 31st January when Brexit is confirmed?
The Brexit deal
Firstly, let’s take a look at the key points of the deal itself. Currently being examined by the House of Lords, the main issues involve travel, money, health, the rights of citizens and of course, trade. The policies set out in the deal will potentially affect currency which can then further impact such things as property prices.
The main focus of the deal is to leave the EU customs union, meaning that the UK will have the freedom to establish their own trade deals with countries around the world.
A significant sticking point was determining how Northern Ireland would be affected, with Boris Johnson eventually replacing the Irish backstop with a new agreement that will begin in December 2020, after the transition period has ended. In summary, this includes a customs declaration system for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as continued access to the UK market for businesses. Northern Ireland also have the option to vote on their continued membership in this deal four years after the transition period.
After January 31st, travel plans for UK citizens travelling to EU countries will not be affected.
ABTA, the travel industry’s trade association has said: "If Parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, which it is on track to do, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020."
After the transition, a visa similar to the American ESTA will be introduced, expecting to cost around £6 and last for a number of years.
All transport entering the EU, including ferries and cruise ships will not be affected but there may be an additional driving permit if you wish to use your own vehicle within your UK insurance policy in the EU.
Savings are not expected to be affected after Brexit due to all bank trading agreements bought from EU firms being protected by the transition period. There may a short-term gain for savers if interest rates are increased when the Conservative Budget is announced next month.
However, British retirees living abroad may have their pension payments frozen, not benefiting from the EU payment increase, which is based on either inflation, wage increases or 2.5% - whichever is highest. On top of that, those living in the EU and being paid in GBP may lose earnings if the pound falls after Brexit.Property
With house prices showing an increase from November to December last year, estate agents are optimistic that Brexit will finally end the uncertainty that had led to prices stagnating – and falling in some areas - in the UK.
Even with renewed confidence, the February Budget could affect the market, with the potential for reforms for first-time buyers. No-deal is still a slight possibility, so foreign investors will be keeping a close eye on negotiations before parting with their money.
Most estate agents say that surveys have shown that potential buyers generally have overestimated the impact of Brexit so far, and with the political climate much calmer, expect buyers who were holding back to come forward in 2020.
Rental prices are forecasted to rise, due mainly to the lack of rental options on the market.
The value of the pound can go either way, with a lot of experts claiming the volatility of the past 3 years will calm and the pound will be more stable. Since the start of negotiations, the strength of the pound has been linked to a clean break that protected business, whereas the chaos of a no-deal Brexit has sent the pound down in value. Since the general election result, the pound has rallied due to investors being more comfortable with the prospect of a strong majority Conservative government.
However, with a lot to be done by the end of the transition period – including crucial trade agreements with the EU itself – there could still be choppy waters ahead for GBP. In fact, just this week it was revealed that there are fundamental disagreements between the EU and UK that will almost certainly require more than eight months of negotiations, which formally begin in March.
The obvious reason for any difficulties in the negotiations is that the EU believe that the UK should continue to follow some of the EU regulations in order to secure a free-trade agreement. This is mainly due to EU members, including France, asking for a level playing field to be maintained. Trade-offs will likely come into play as the transition period progresses, with a report recently claiming that the UK will allow EU fleets to fish in their waters if bankers and financiers are allowed favourable access to the EU financial markets. The issue with such trade-offs is that invariably they will affect certain demographics unfavourably, which can lead to more stand-offs. With such a tight deadline any significant delays could be disastrous and can bring the no-deal prospect back into the reckoning.
If you require any guidance on your currency exchange during this crucial step of Brexit, reach out to Universal Partners FX; a specialist in delivering expert guidance and the best possible rates for those dealing with foreign currency.