The UK’s departure from the EU

The biggest change for British businesses for a generation


The UK may – finally – be reaching the final stages of exiting the EU if prime minister, Theresa May, can win backing for her EU deal which, in spite of being rejected twice by MPs, remains the only one on offer.

Since the referendum vote to leave the EU in June 2016, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has focussed closely on exactly what Brexit means in practical, day-to-day, terms for UK businesses.

Currently MPs face backing Theresa May’s deal and leaving the EU this summer, if an extension is granted from the original date of March 29 to pass necessary UK legislation, or face the possibility of remaining in the EU for longer, if attempts to negotiate a new deal have to be made.

Whatever happens, The UK is in the final stages of implementing the result of the June 2016 vote and it is crucial that, if they have not already done so, businesses are doing all they can to prepare for life outside the EU.

Although a difficulty has been a lack of clarity from the UK government due to the complexity, and uncertainty, of the negotiations, BCC has put together resources to help businesses plan for the change.

Visit our Preparing for Brexit page below to learn what practical steps your business can take now to be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that will result from the UK leaving the EU and becoming an independent global trading nation.

Brexit has undoubtedly turned out to be tougher and more divisive than many believed with tightly-argued, conflicting opinions voiced during the last two-and-a-half years both in Westminster and Brussels.

During this time BCC has focused on getting answers to basic, practical questions about future trading arrangements and evaluating what the political process actually means for running a UK business involved in international trade now, and in the future.

Government launches its ‘Prepare for EU Exit’ hub

On 8 January the government launched a new hub for no deal Brexit information on the hub, which has dedicated sections for businesses, individuals, UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK. The webpages include a tool for filtering the technical notices, partnership packs and other guidance based on company sector.

Important dates:

MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal on 15 January by a record majority of 230. They returned to the House of Commons on 29 January to debate the government’s response.  From this a majority voted in favour of a non-binding amendment that rejected a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

They also voted in favour of an amendment that called for the Irish backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland, but otherwise supported the prime minister’s deal. The next move is for Theresa May to seek the change MPs wish with the EU.

Click here to see the possible options going forward

Possible future dates

29 March 2019 – If Parliament agrees, the withdrawal agreement comes into force.

21 December 2020 – The current plan, if Parliament agrees, is for a transition period of 21 months to smooth the path from Brexit to the UK and EU’s future permanent relationship.