The Conservative Party led by prime minister Johnson won yesterday’s UK’s general election with a large majority of 76 seats.
The Conservative Party’s manifesto’s title was “Get Brexit Done” so, with a withdrawal agreement already agreed by the UK and EU and voted for by the House of Commons, it is now clear that Brexit will happen and the UK will leave the EU at the end of January 2020. What is far from clear though is what kind of future relationship with the EU and an emboldened prime minister will seek.
So, what will happen next? According to political commentators the government will announce their legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech on 19 December and top of the agenda will be a Withdrawal Agreement Bill, tabled in parliament before Christmas, to ratify Johnson’s deal with Brussels in time for the UK to leave on 31 January. The UK’s formal departure from the EU at the end of January will be far from the end of the matter, with an agreement still to be thrashed out on the UK’s future relations with the EU in many areas. Johnson has vowed to complete a free trade agreement by the end of 2020, and wrote a promise into the Conservative manifesto not to accept an offered two-year extension beyond this date. However, outside of Downing Street it is widely believed that more than a year will be required to close a comprehensive deal, with at least 5 years considered more realistic. The EU said this week that it would not be possible to complete a full deal by December 2020 and therefore, whilst the EU will do what it can, a no-deal scenario remains a possibility.
With a comfortable majority in the House of Commons and the removal of all his internal remain-backing critics, the prime minister will no longer have to wrangle over details of his deal at home and will be free of the threat of parliamentary hijacks, both from hard Brexiteers and Remainers, to block his plans. However, it is not at all clear what kind of Brexit Johnson wants. There are two distinct options – freed from the Brexiteers, Johnson could negotiate a softer Brexit, limiting the negative economic impact of leaving and retaining close ties with the EU. On the other hand, with a large majority, the promise not to extend transition could result in either a bare bones trade deal or an exit on World Trade Organisation terms.
What does this mean for pharmaceutical and medical device companies? There has already been a lot of guidance and new requirements published by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that will come into effect following Brexit. These new requirements and procedures have various different timelines attached to them, ranging from effective immediately the UK leaves the EU, to a transition period of almost 2 years from the leave date. As the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 and there is still a possibility of a no-deal, if not already prepared, now is the time for companies to ensure that they can meet the new requirements that Brexit will deliver.
Regulis, with both UK- and EU-based companies, has prepared for Brexit and is able to help clients meet both new UK and EU requirements. If you would like help with your company’s Brexit preparedness, please contact us via our enquires form.