There has been lots of talk of deadlines around the Brexit negotiations, the one we beat (just) to be able to move on the talks about a trade deal, another is when the Withdrawal Agreement has to be signed off leaving enough time for it to be ratified by the European parliament, EU27 national Parliaments & a number of Regional Parliaments (but not, please not the UK Parliament).
However, there is one deadline that is not being talked about, probably as it is not a governmental one and not a fixed one either.
It is simply how late can companies leave making the decisions they need to make about whether to transfer all or part of their UK business into the EU27 area to keep it inside the Single Market & Customs Union?
Of course, this will vary between companies. Some like Wetherspoons (can’t move pubs) or Dyson (their manufacturing centre are already outside the EU, in Malaysia & Singapore) won’t be affected too much directly by Brexit so don’t have to move any part of the company, others like EasyJet (maintenance centre moved to Malta) have already move part of its business into the EU27 area, some like many of the banks) are waiting to make final decisions.
As the crunch date of March 29th draws ever closer with no definite agreement between the UK & the EU27 over the Terms of Withdrawal and an agreement in principle over future trade arrangements (for which detailed negotiations cannot start until we are no linger in the EU), more and more companies will be forced to make these decisions as they cannot wait to see if the Hard Brexit wing is defeated and we get a Soft (or no) Brexit deal.
So, if you work for a company with existing business with the EU27, perhaps you should start to think what will happen in the next 12 months? Are Toyota going to invest in their Derby factory or in their facilities across the EU27 countries to build the next generation of cars? Are Siemens going to continue to build factories in the KU when products built here will be subject to customs & duties to import into the EU?
Decisions will need to be made soon as it takes time to transfer jobs & facilities and change logistics. It is meeting the deadlines for these decisions that will determine if the UK can make a success of leaving the EU or not, far more than any politician in Westminster.