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LONDON – The UK government published its first batch of no deal Brexit planning notices on Thursday.
The government is set to release a total of 84 notices over the next few weeks, outlining how all aspects of British life are being prepared for the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.
On Thursday, Raab unveiled 25 notices, with the rest set to follow soon. The notices, which Raab described as “sensible, measured, and proportionate,” confirmed some things which have been widely reported already.
For example, a no deal Brexit would make it more complicated and time-consuming for UK companies to export goods to the EU, consequently creating costly delays at British borders and slowing down cross-border trade.
However, the notices published on Thursday revealed more unexpected and bizarre ways leaving the EU without a deal – as endorsed by some hardcore Brexiteers – would impact day-to-day life in the UK.
Cigarette packets will look totally different
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A no deal Brexit would force UK tobacco companies to come up with whole new packaging for their products in time for exit day at the end of March 2019. By packaging, we mean pictures of unhealthy lungs and other body parts you often see pictured on cigarette packets. That’s because “existing picture library is owned by the European Commission,” meaning UK companies would no longer have the right to use the pictures they use now.
Tobacco companies would have to pay for some new artwork – and fast.
Credit card transactions will be more expensive
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A no deal Brexit would increase the cost of card payments to the EU. Without a Brexit deal, UK-EU credit card transactions will become more expensive, meaning online shopping with certain companies will cost you more.
The government did not specify how much it expects card payment costs to rise. However, cross-border payments would no longer be protected by a ban on businesses from charging people extra for using specific payment methods.
Here’s the key extract from the first batch of no deal notices:
“The cost of card payments between the UK and EU will likely increase, and these cross-border payments will no longer be covered by the surcharging ban (which prevents businesses from being able to charge consumers for using a specific payment method.)”
These changes could impact some popular services in the UK, like Uber. If you look at any receipt for an Uber journey in the UK, you’ll see Uber processes the payment for your ride through its Dutch subsidiary, Uber BV, based in Amsterdam. Given that Amsterdam is in the EU, it could be hit by any rise under a “no deal” scenario.
British expats could lose their pensions
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Under a no deal Brexit, there would be a risk of EU citizens living on the continent who have bank accounts in the UK – including Brits abroad – of losing access to certain elements of their bank accounts.
The notes warn that British expats “may lose the ability to access existing lending and deposit services, insurance contracts (such as life insurance contracts and annuities) due to UK firms losing their rights to passport into the EEA.”
This means thousands of British expats and EU citizens could lose access to their pensions, and financial services like money-borrowing and life insurance.
The organic food industry could be in crisis
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One industry which will be nervous after reading today’s notices is the UK organic food industry.
Under a no deal Brexit, organic farmers in the UK would have reduced access to the single market and would no longer have the authorisation to export their goods to buyers in the EU.
Organic food sellers would need to be “certified by an organic control body recognised by the EU to operate in the UK,” the notes say, adding that approval can take up to nine months. Only until being certified by EU authorities will UK organic food companies be able to resume trading with the EU. Nine months is a long time.
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, warned: “Not only would this be hugely disruptive but it threatens livelihoods and businesses in the UK.”
Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP and supporter of the anti-Brexit group Best For Britain, added: “A nine-month wait for organic farmers to sell their produce into their biggest market would see farmers up and down the country wiped out.”
We might not have enough sperm
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The UK imports a lot of sperm. In fact, last year it imported around 4,000 samples from the USA, and 3,000 from Denmark, which is an EU member state. Imports come from some other EU member states, too. These samples go to UK sperm banks and are given to women who want to achieve pregnancy.
Under a no deal Brexit, the UK would be forced to sign agreements with individual commercial sperm exporters in order for sperm transportation to continue as it does now. Signing new agreements could take time, and these agreements could with new border checks, meaning the movement of sperm could be slower.
In the meantime, the UK might have to start producing more of its own sperm.