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  • When I buy groceries here in England, I usually like to pick up things like apples, peppers, cheese, and wine, but that's now, before Brexit.

  • If Britain were to crash out of the EU without a deal, these products might be hard to find in my local supermarket, so some economists say my grocery basket may look more like this.

  • For the last few years, government agencies and companies across the country have been studying what might happen in case of a no-deal Brexit.

  • It's better for all of us if we can leave the EU with a withdrawal agreement in place.

  • The government needs to be prepared for every eventuality, the departments are all working on the basis of a reasonable worst-case scenario.

  • The government has been doing a lot to try and prepare for a no-deal Brexit, but there is a limit to what the UK government can do on its own.

  • According to government documents, Bank of England reports, and other studies, buying groceries would only be one of my problems.

  • Studies warn we could see home prices plummet by as much as 30%, medicine shortages, and a jump in inflation.

  • First, let's explain what a no-deal Brexit actually is.

  • In 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union.

  • Hence, Brexit.

  • Now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he's working to achieve what his predecessor, Theresa May, couldn't.

  • Nothing--

  • Strike an exit deal with the EU that Parliament can get behind, too.

  • If he can't, well, Johnson said he's pulling the UK out anyway.

  • We're leaving on the 31st of October, no ifs or buts.

  • If that happens, Britain would leave the European Union overnight with no transition period to ease out of its membership.

  • That would be a no-deal Brexit, and according to a government document known as Operation Yellowhammer, the consequences could be pretty dire.

  • Food shortages, crisis at the border, even the risk of rioting across the UK.

  • Food supplies and the economy as a whole could be hit, while government spending could dry sharply.

  • So let's go back to those groceries.

  • This pile is what we produce in the UK, and this is what we import.

  • In a no-deal scenario, these fresh fruits and vegetables from other EU countries could go bad before they even reach the UK.

  • That's because thousands of shipments would have to go through new customs checks which could cause traffic jams and huge delays.

  • William Bain of the British Retail Consortium explains that the UK is particularly vulnerable to food shortages.

  • Could you talk about how the UK stacks up against other countries, like, say, the U.S., in terms of our dependence on food imports, particularly from the EU?

  • So we've been a net importer of foods, really, for the last few decades.

  • I think consumer tastes are not going to change too much and we're still going to want to have our sandwiches with some tomato in it in December as much as we do in June or July.

  • For British exporters, a no-deal could also mean tariffs on products like cheese and beef, which, retailers say, could see levies of nearly 50%.

  • So how can Britain keep buying and selling goods across its borders?

  • One answer could be negotiate new trade deals.

  • As of September 2019, the UK government said it signed 14 new trade deals.

  • 25 others are still in the works, but replacing the EU bloc, which is by far the UK's main trading partner, won't be easy.

  • One of the difficulties for knowing exactly what the impact of coming out of a deep free trade agreement is that countries haven't really done this in the past.

  • There have been lots of examples of countries trying to integrate their trade more closely.

  • There's essentially no examples of countries moving in the other direction.

  • Perhaps the only example in the past was the breakup of the USSR.

  • That was a single economic bloc that then broke up, but really apart from that, there's no past precedent to look back to.

  • The Bank of England's latest estimates say, in a worst-case scenario, GDP could fall by 5.5%, unemployment could almost double to 7%, and inflation could peak at 5.25%.

  • Other reports disagree on precisely how much the economy will be hurt by Brexit, but the vast majority of economists agree it wouldn't be good for the UK's economic growth.

  • Adding a no-deal into the equation, even worse.

  • So what is the government doing about it?

  • They currently have about 17,000 civil servants working on this specifically, and that is everything from trying to make sure that there are systems in place at the borders, at the ports, to ease the flow of lorries going through to France.

  • If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, the UK government may have to borrow around $37 billion every year from fiscal '21 onwards, according to one estimate.

  • Those who support a no-deal say the investment is worth it, because it will lay a groundwork for a new, stronger UK, but those who oppose no-deal say there will be too much damage.

  • Even with those best mitigations, it doesn't take away from the harm that's gonna be caused to the consumer by a no-deal Brexit.

  • Brexit opened up a huge amount of debate about the UK's trading relationships, not only with the EU, but with the rest of the world.

  • We'll see what happens on the Brexit deadline, but like many Brits, I may want to stockpile some of this stuff just in case I can't get it anymore.

When I buy groceries here in England, I usually like to pick up things like apples, peppers, cheese, and wine, but that's now, before Brexit.

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What Could Happen After a No-Deal Brexit | WSJ

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    Helena posted on 2019/10/22
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