Changes to trade mark law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

This relates to European Union Trade Marks only and sets out the changes we are making to UK law in the event of no deal.

Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority; this has not changed. However, a responsible government must plan for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario.

This will cover the impact on UK right holders, businesses, and other organisations. Information relating to registered Community designs and international trade mark and design rights will be published in due course.

This complements the technical notice on trade marks and EU exit published on 24 September 2018

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-trade-mark-law-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal

Martin BraisbyChanges to trade mark law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

IP and Brexit: the facts

This guide offers information on the future of intellectual property (IP) laws following the decision that the UK will leave the European Union (EU).

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ip-and-brexit-the-facts

Martin BraisbyIP and Brexit: the facts

Changes to design and trade mark law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

This relates to registered design, design rights and international design and trade marks and sets out the changes we are making to UK law in the event of no deal.

Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority; this has not changed. However, a responsible government must plan for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario.

This will cover the impact on UK right holders, businesses, and other organisations. Information relating to registered Community designs and international trade mark and design rights will be published in due course.

This complements the technical notice on trade marks and designs and EU exit published on 24 September 2018.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-design-and-trade-mark-law-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal

Martin BraisbyChanges to design and trade mark law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

Brexit Update

Brexit and the inevitable uncertainty arising will have far-reaching impacts for many businesses. Risks, but also it might create new opportunities. Middle market businesses in Staffordshire need to start planning now and taking their own actions for various potential scenarios, including no-deal, as a result of the UK leaving the European Union.
Our Brexit team has collated areas Staffordshire businesses might consider, grouped under five sections:

Regulation and compliance
Maintaining compliance with changing regulatory frameworks will be crucial to enabling a business to continue to operate and trade across the EU and non-EU countries as they do now and remain competitive. For example, businesses will need to consider how Brexit might impact their ability to access some tax reliefs; whether their current insurance provisions will still be appropriate; will the ability to operate and trade seamlessly in the EU be disrupted due to regulatory changes; and whether changes to legislation will impact audit and financial reporting requirements?

Financial planning and forecasting
Forecasting the impact of decisions and price shock uncertainty will be crucial to maintaining business continuity. Equally important will be the ability to access finance to fund suitable working capital requirements, including managing cashflow, tax implications and technology.

Trade
Can your supply chain withstand any Brexit related disruption without negatively affecting your business and your customers? Businesses need to consider the potential impact of increased customs duties, increased bureaucracy and greater regulation causing delays to the movement of goods and services; and the consequential knock-on, and the effects too cash-flow, lead times, customer relationships, product quality and fulfilment of contracts. Have you made sure your suppliers and their suppliers have thought about this? Also, have you considered sourcing new suppliers locally which may provide better terms?

People and talent management
Changes to UK immigration policy will have an impact and businesses should consider how they will continue to recruit and retain the right people to maintain business continuity and make the most of Brexit opportunities as progressive businesses may well be more successful in attracting and/or retaining quality staff both domestically and in the EU.

Business management
Avoiding disruption to core operations and maintaining business continuity will require careful planning and may involve restructuring the business or acquiring additional entities in different jurisdictions. This may also mean outsourcing key areas to increase efficiency and enable a business to focus resources elsewhere.

These are just some of the areas we suggest middle-market businesses should be looking at right now to gain a competitive advantage over businesses that are taking a wait and see approach. For more detail, please click here.

Martin BraisbyBrexit Update

Northern Ireland and the Withdrawal Agreement

When the latest draft of the Withdrawal Agreement went online on Wednesday evening, it was to the innocuously titled Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland that many analysts and commentators turned.

In these 29 pages, buried in the middle of a weighty text of 585 pages, lay the purported cause of the cabinet resignations and no confidence letters that troubled Theresa May in the immediate wake of its publication.

Why? Well, the Protocol and its ten associated annexes contain the essence and detail of the ‘backstop’ provisions. Controversial for some, welcomed by others, this backstop, if triggered at the end of the transition period, will be the means by which a hard border on the island of Ireland is avoided.

Much of the controversy around the backstop assumes that it will be the final landing zone of the UK-EU relationship.

But the Withdrawal Agreement is very clear: the EU and the UK will ‘use their best endeavours’ (Protocol, Article 2(1)) to find agreement by the end of 2020 that avoids the need to trigger the Protocol.

Moreover, even if it comes into play, the Protocol is ‘intended to apply only temporarily’ and thus only ‘unless and until [its provisions] are superseded, in whole or in part, by a subsequent agreement’ (Protocol, Article 1(4)).

Testament to the negotiating line of the UK in the past eight months is the fact that the Protocol is significantly different to its previous version in March 2018. Most notably, it contains an all-UK customs arrangement, as well as the scope for Northern Ireland to be accorded special treatment by the EU.

Meeting the commitments made in the Joint Report of December 2017, the purpose of the backstop, unless and until a future UK-EU agreement manages to do so, is stated to be:

to address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, maintain the necessary conditions for continued North-South cooperation, avoid a hard border and protect the 1998 [Good Friday or Belfast] Agreement in all its dimensions (Protocol, Article 1(3))

Rather than paring back these commitments, the UK appears to have added to them in the course of the past few months. This is evident in the new additions to Article 1 of the Protocol:

  1. This Protocol is without prejudice to the provisions of the 1998 Agreement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent, which provides that any change in that status can only be made with the consent of a majority of its people.
  2. This Protocol respects the essential State functions and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

Mention of the principle of consent and of the ‘territorial integrity’ of the UK here hold little legal sway – their legal basis is in UK legislation – but they are enormously important principles for unionists in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

Their inclusion so prominently in the Protocol reflects an attempt to ameliorate the concerns of the Democratic Unionist Party, which has supported May under the confidence and supply arrangement.

Further addressing unionist concerns is the fact that the Protocol now not only seeks to avoid a hard land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland but also any hardening of the one between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Inevitably this entails maintaining close ties between the UK and the EU. And it is in how to achieve this that the controversy lies for May.

What has provoked the ire of many Brexiteers is that, if it is used, the backstop will see the UK as a whole in a ‘bare bones’ customs union with the EU. May has insisted on this so as to avoid the need for customs checks on the Irish border or within the UK.

In order to meet the challenge of keeping the Irish border as open as possible, the Protocol contains particular provisions relating to Northern Ireland which would effectively see it remain in ‘the’ EU customs union.

It also contains provisions for maintaining a level of regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the EU necessary to maintain the free movement of goods across the Irish border.

This includes staying aligned with EU VAT rules in respect of goods, and in relation to agricultural and fisheries products, and maintaining the Sanitary and Phytosanitary regime on the island of Ireland.

All this was originally envisaged in the first draft of the Protocol. What has been added since March 2018 is the detail, through previously unpublished annexes, of the range of regulatory alignment.

But, as required to protect the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, the scope of the Protocol extends beyond trade. This is where we also see continuity from the previous drafts of the Withdrawal Agreement.

It includes provisions on the rights of individuals (where there is to be no diminution of the rights set out in the 1998 Agreement); bilateral UK-Ireland arrangements as part of the Common Travel Area; state aid and competition rules; arrangements for maintaining the single electricity market and other areas of North-South cooperation.

There are also new bodies proposed to oversee this, including a dedicated mechanism to ensure no diminution of rights in Northern Ireland, and a ‘Joint Consultative Working Group’ comprising UK and EU representatives.

It will meet at least monthly to exchange information, notably on relevant EU policy and legislative proposals in areas covered by the Protocol. This will be a form of dedicated decision-shaping.

Plus, as originally envisaged there will be a Specialised Committee with overall responsibility for the implementation of the Protocol. Its work will begin as soon as the UK exits the EU.

Also new are the means by which the implementation, application, supervision and enforcement of EU law will be handled. In previous drafts, this was to be the responsibility of EU institutions and bodies.

Now there is to be a role for the UK authorities in the implementation and application processes. Practical arrangements are to be determined by the UK-EU Joint Committee overseeing the implementation of the whole Withdrawal Agreement.

For the interpretation of EU law under the Protocol, the responsible institution will be the Court of Justice of the EU. For other areas, it will be the dispute-settlement mechanisms for the Withdrawal Agreement generally.

Finally, the latest draft of the Protocol is more expansive on how the backstop arrangements can be ended. The Protocol will apply from the end of the transition period – possibly extended – unless an adequate agreement on UK-EU relations is ready to implement.

Once in play, the backstop cannot be unilaterally ended. Instead a dedicated review mechanism will be available to allow consideration of whether the Protocol ‘is, in whole or in part, no longer necessary to achieve the objectives’ of enabling continued North-South cooperation, avoiding a hard border and protecting the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions.

Any decision that all or part of the Protocol shall cease to apply will be taken by ‘mutual consent’ of the UK and the EU in the Joint Committee responsible for the implementation of application of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Joint Committee may ‘seek an opinion from institutions created by the 1998 Agreement’. Conceived to protect these institutions – the future operation of the Protocol may therefore yet end up being shaped by them.

By Dr Katy Hayward, reader in Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast and David Phinnemore, professor of European politics at Queen’s University Belfast.

Martin BraisbyNorthern Ireland and the Withdrawal Agreement

Staffordshire LEP – Find out how Brexit may affect your business – and let us know

The Government has issued a series of technical notices giving businesses information on how Brexit may affect them in the event of no deal being agreed. The guidance covers everything from importing and exporting to product labelling, business regulations and workplace rights.

The guidance can be found here

Businesses are being advised to review each of the technical notices and consider what preparation they need to do in good time for next March’s EU exit. Businesses in any sector with a large volume of exports and imports with the EU could be particularly affected, especially the agri-food sector.

The Staffordshire Resilience Forum and Civil Contingencies Unit, a multi-agency partnership involving all the LEP area’s local authorities, is seeking information from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses on how the  various issues identified in the technical notices are likely to affect them.

The working group is seeking as full an understanding as possible of business issues as it begins the next stage of its work – preparing local contingency plans to try to mitigate any adverse effects.

All responses should be sent to ccu@staffordshirefire.gov.uk

To find out more about the resilience forum visit its website Staffordshire Prepared

Martin BraisbyStaffordshire LEP – Find out how Brexit may affect your business – and let us know

If Theresa May gets her Brexit deal here’s why you should expect financial markets to go up

The secret’s out. The government is making plans to sell its Brexit deal to MPs. And much (rather mean) hilarity has ensued.

Yet behind the silliness, the ham-fistedness, and the plain bad spelling, there’s a serious point. The Government needs to sell its deal to the public and – first and foremost – to MPs. And it is counting on the fact of having got a deal in the first place to help swing the mood.

The context and mood will shift once a deal is reached. For one thing, the optics will change. Mr Raab and Monsieur Barnier, for so long adversaries, will appear on a stage together trumpeting their joint achievement.

The European Council will welcome Mrs May, doubtless praise her dogged approach to the negotiations, and welcome a deal that works for everyone.

Returning home, the PM might even be moved to make a statement before addressing MPs, stressing that she has achieved the best possible outcome in the face of significant adversity. And she may well repeat the canard that parliament faces a stark choice between what she has negotiated and no deal at all.

And meanwhile, behind the scenes, there will be apparently more objective indicators of approval.

The markets will react. Remember how the pound bounced against both the euro and the dollar in the wake of a story last week that some kind of minimal deal had been done on financial services? Logically, one would expect a far more marked reaction to a real deal being signed.

Pessimism has been baked into the markets for months, so there is every chance that they will deliver Philip Hammond’s famous deal dividend.

And as the stock market reacts, a half-competent government would attempt to coral businesses into supporting its deal. The government’s comms grid suggests “lining up 25 top business voices including Carolyn Fairburn”.

At this point, many firms have abandoned hope of a business-friendly Brexit, pressing instead for the maximum amount of certainty as soon as possible. A withdrawal deal encompassing a (potentially extendable) transition of twenty-one months would provide a degree of that.

Meanwhile, the Treasury will release its long-awaited forecasts on the economic implications of Brexit. None of them, as we know, will be pretty.

But expect the deal done to stack up well against most, at least, of the alternatives. In particular, expect the comparison with the damage that a Canada-style deal would do to be underlined in red.

As domestic voices are prompted to speak out, the leaked grid also highlights the importance of international support. It suggests attempting to get “lots of world leaders eg Japanese PM to tweet support for the deal [sic]”.

Opponents might once again find themselves wrong footed as those whose arguments on Brexit they have applauded to date (whether that be Leo Varadkar or Shinzo Abe) line up beside the Prime Minister to sell what she has achieved. It is of course ultimately up to MPs to decide the fate of the deal.

Yet, as John Curtice has argued, much will also depend on how it is sold to the public. Recent polling by Survation, showed the largest group of people (34 per cent) didn’t know whether they’d support the deal while 33 per cent said they’d reject it and 26% would accept it.

This confirms Curtice’s view that there’ll be a lot to play for once the deal is done.

Stronger polling support would make it harder for MPs to justify opposing it, particularly if all they can offer in its place is chaos and uncertainty. Hence the programmed speaking tour which would see the PM visit a number of parts of the UK to promote her Brexit plan.

Now obviously all this may not be enough to secure the parliamentary majority that the Prime Minister needs. We simply do not know how MPs are going to act, and for many nor do they. That being said, the post-deal world will look very different to the pre-deal one.

And in that sense at least, it might help Mrs May get what she has secured over the line.

By Anand Menon, director, and Matt Bevington, policy researcher, at The UK in a Changing Europe. This piece originally featured in The Independent.

Martin BraisbyIf Theresa May gets her Brexit deal here’s why you should expect financial markets to go up

Article 50 and a Brexit general election: the problem of political time

How will the current Brexit impasse be broken? If the government can’t get its Brexit deal through parliament, there are two potential ways of getting through the deadlock: a referendum, or a general election.

The Constitution Unit’s recent report, The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit, set out two sets of obstacles standing in the way of a Brexit referendum: problems of political will, and issues of political timing.

It convincingly showed that issues of timing were far from insurmountable, but would likely require an extension of the Article 50 process. To make that extension a viable prospect, and for parliament to support a referendum, will in turn require significant political will.

The path to a referendum is fraught, but the route to a general election is no less difficult to map out. Westminster is quickly getting to grips with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA), a piece of legislation which many wrote off as dead following Theresa May’s successful snap election in 2017.

Stated simply, there are two ways parliamentary gridlock could lead to a general election. Firstly, the government could, as Theresa May did in April 2016, seek the approval of 434 MPs in the House of Commons to trigger an election.

Secondly, if the Prime Minister lost a vote of confidence in the Commons by a simple majority, and no majority could be found in parliament for a new government after two weeks, then a general election would be the result.

These procedural hurdles are forbidding, but far from insurmountable. Labour would undoubtedly support Theresa May in parliament if she called a general election. It is hard to see the circumstances where the Prime Minister would wish to risk seeking the support of 434 MPs to trigger a general election.

It is less difficult to imagine a new Conservative leader, if May lost a leadership election, doing so in order to gain a mandate. The second path, losing a confidence vote, would require some Conservative MPs to vote against their own government in parliament. This would, in short, require a fracture in the party system.

There would also be significant questions of political timing at play. There are two key pinch-points that the House of Commons has successfully inserted into the rules of the meaningful vote, which we outline in our recent report on the Brexit Endgame: the ‘meaningful vote’ on the terms of withdrawal, which is expected to be held in late November; and the date of 21 January where the Prime Minister, in the absence of a deal, would have to come to the House of Commons and set out the government’s plans.

However, the most important deadline in terms of an election is 29 March 2019, when the UK will cease to be a Member State of the EU. The major question is: could an election enable a new government to take office before the UK leaves the EU?

General election following the loss of the ‘meaningful vote’

The timings of the meaningful vote inevitably require a degree of forecasting and prediction. However, if the Prime Minister manages to find a deal at the emergency EU Council Summit (which is currently pencilled in to take place on 17-18 November) then the earliest the government can hold a vote – following the five days of scrutiny that the Exiting the European Union Committee recommend, and which the government would be well advised to grant if they wish to increase goodwill in parliament – would be either 26 or 27 November (the latter date is already the subject of speculation in Westminster and Whitehall).

If the government loses the ‘meaningful vote’, there will inevitably be calls for it to fall. So, the date of 27 November is a plausible starting point for thinking about a general election fought on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Given the need to ‘wash-up’ the remains of the parliamentary legislation; the disruption of the Christmas break; and the 25 working days for a general election required by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013,  the earliest date for an election would be 10 January, following campaigning over Christmas. It would, in effect, be a slightly soggy snap election.

General election following a ‘no deal’ declaration in parliament

If there is to be no deal, Section 13(11)(b)(i) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 sets the date of 21 January as the latest date at which the Prime Minister must come to parliament to explain the government’s next steps.

Within five Commons sittings days, so by the 28 January, a neutral, (potentially) unamendable motion on the government’s Brexit deal would need to be held. This provides a guaranteed parliamentary reckoning of sorts for any no deal strategy.

The problem is that, while parliamentary support for a no deal is highly unlikely, whether there exists a parliamentary mechanism to exert a no deal majority is far from clear. Perhaps the only option, if there is a clear consensus against no deal, would be for it to be put to a public vote – either  a referendum, or a general election.

But these dates would mean a general election would not be able to take place before 28 February – if the government set out its plans to fight on a ‘no deal’ manifesto upon announcing them in the Commons, laid down a motion for a general election as quickly as possible and the Labour party supported it.

If a general election instead followed the second route – the loss of a vote of no confidence due to opposition from either its own MPs or the DUP, and no alternative cross-party government could be formed after the mandated two-week period – then the quickest date for an election would be 14 March (and could well be up to a week later, if the government were to delay the motion on no deal following the Prime Minister’s statement).

The lack of political time

All this, in effect, brings us very close to the current 29 March deadline set by Article 50. In short, it is near impossible to see a new government not requiring an extension of the Article 50 process if they hoped to renegotiate Brexit.

Whether either main party would accept this reality – and how the practical need for an extension would affect the electoral dynamics of any election campaign, and be addressed in party manifestos – is an open question.

One of the unwritten rules of British politics is that, if we find ourselves trudging to the ballot box in the depths of winter, we are in the midst of either a constitutional or an economic crisis.

The last two winter elections were either caused by constitutional or political upheaval: in January 1910 when David Lloyd George’s ‘People’s Budget’ was blocked by the House of Lords, and in February 1974, when the economic and social crisis of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ led to Ted Heath’s attempts to break the government-union deadlock through a general election.

The difference for a ‘Brexit election’ held before 29 March 2019 is that it would likely be a result of both: a constitutional crisis, in the midst of significant political and economic uncertainty. The problem of political time will be likely to add another crucial layer to this uncertainty.

By Dr Alan Wager, researcher at The UK in a Changing Europe. This piece originally featured on the Constitution Unit.

Martin BraisbyArticle 50 and a Brexit general election: the problem of political time

A nation of remainers and leavers? how Brexit has forged a new sense of identity

It has now become commonplace to say that attitudes towards Brexit are polarised. One reason is that the country remains more or less evenly divided between the merits of Remain and Leave, as our recently launched EURef2 Poll of Polls shows.

Another is that different kinds of voters typically have very different views. Most younger people and university graduates would prefer to stay in the EU, while most older people and those with few, if any, educational qualifications back leaving.

But perhaps there is also a third reason. This is that many voters are very strongly committed to their side of the argument. Indeed, so strong is this commitment that these voters now think of themselves as a ‘Remainer’ or ‘Leaver’, in much the same way that somebody might think of themselves as, say, a ‘Manchester United fan’ or a ‘Manchester City supporter’.

Being a ‘Remainer’ or a ‘Leaver’ has become part of their self-identity, and a label to which they feel an emotional bond and which serves to underpin and reinforce their support for staying in or leaving the EU irrespective of the arguments and counter-arguments about what Brexit will or will not bring.

Such an idea is not new to the study of politics. The idea that somebody might say ‘I’m a Conservative’ or ‘I’m Labour’ has been recognised by academics ever since the advent of the scientific study of voting in the immediate post-war period – and doubtless it was part of everyday discourse long before that.

However, ever since the 1970s one of the key findings of academic surveys of voting behaviour has been a gradual but persistent decline in the proportion who say that they identify with a party, and an especially marked drop in the proportion who say that they do so strongly.

So, it might be thought something of a surprise if an electorate that has become increasingly disengaged from our political parties should now demonstrate a strong emotional commitment to being a ‘Remainer’ or a ‘Leaver’.

On the other hand, it has often been remarked that the debate about Brexit in Britain is part of a wider resurgence of the ‘politics of identity’ as manifested in everything from the rise of populist anti-immigrant parties in a number of European countries to the (tonally very different) demands for independence in, for example, Scotland and Catalonia.

Perhaps, then, many a voter does feel a strong emotional attachment to their side of the Brexit debate, thereby adding another dimension to the polarisation engendered by Brexit.

That, at least, is what Professor Sara Hobolt and her colleagues have argued on the basis of their work on voters’ attitudes towards Brexit as part of the ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ programme. Today we publish an analysis paper that reports on our efforts to test and assess their claim, and in particular to compare how many people feel a strong Brexit identity with how many say nowadays that they identify strongly with a party.

The paper is based on data collected during the summer as part of the most recent wave of questions on attitudes towards Brexit to be asked on NatCen’s mixed mode random probability panel.

There is one clear headline. Our research strongly supports the claims of Professor Hobolt and her colleagues. Nearly nine in ten members of our panel said that they were either a ‘Remainer’ or a ‘Leaver’, whereas less than two-thirds of them claim to identify with a political party.

Meanwhile, no less than 44% say they are a ‘very strong Remainer’ or a ‘very strong Leaver’, whereas only 9% claim to be a very strong supporter of a political party.

Strong identifiers are to be found on both sides of the Brexit debate. They are, though, a little more prevalent on the Remain side. While 45% of Leavers say they are a very strong Leaver, no less than 53% of Remainers report a very strong identity.

It is sometimes suggested that, given the importance of immigration and sovereignty to many voters on the Leave side, their views are rooted above all in emotion and identity. However, the large proportion of very strong identifiers on the Remain side suggests that in practice emotion and identity underpin the views of many a Remainer too.

These who identify strongly with one side or the other have some distinctive views. Very strong Remainers are more likely to oppose than support the idea that prospective EU migrants should have to apply to come to Britain in the same way as non-EU migrants do – no other group of voters takes that view.

Meanwhile very strong Leavers are especially likely to be critical of how the EU has been handling the Brexit talks. The two groups are clearly looking at the Brexit process through very different and partisan lenses.

But nowhere is this more clearly the case than in respect of the perceived economic consequences of Brexit. Very strong Remainers are almost unanimous in believing that Brexit will make Britain’s economy worse off.

In contrast, the vast majority of very strong Leavers believe that the economy will be better off. It is, then, little wonder that after more than two years of debate about what Brexit should and could mean, relatively few voters on either side have changed their minds about the relative merits of Remain or Leave. For even if the head is uncertain, the heart remains sure.

By Professor John Curtice, senior fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe. This piece originally featured on WhatUKthinksEU.

Martin BraisbyA nation of remainers and leavers? how Brexit has forged a new sense of identity

No-deal Brexit: survey reveals 44% of people expect the UK to crash out of EU

As the Brexit negotiations grind on, and with a withdrawal agreement still seeming elusive, the British people are becoming more pessimistic about what Brexit might mean. A major new survey by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Ipsos MORI reveals that nearly half (44%) expect the UK to leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place. Only three in ten expect a deal to be worked out.

If we break the population down by party support and preference on Brexit, other fascinating distinctions become apparent. The majority of Remain-backing Labour voters think the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit, while the majority of Conservative-Leave supporters think the country will leave with a deal.

Strikingly, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, few see much personal economic benefit flowing from Brexit. Only 14% of the public expect that leaving the EU will result in an increase in their own standard of living in the next five years, with twice as many expecting their standard of living to decrease. The public have become more pessimistic since we last asked this question in May 2016, just before the referendum.

This personal economic pessimism reflects a broader sense of a negative impact on the UK economy, at least over the next five years. Only two in ten people expect the UK growth rate to increase as a result of Brexit over that period, with four in ten expecting it to decrease.

But this overall picture is again a balance of very different views between Leave and Remain supporters: 64% of Remain supporters expect Brexit to decrease growth rates, compared with only 17% of Leave supporters.

The bus has finally departed

The NHS was at the heart of the Leave campaign, with explicit messages about how leaving the EU will lead to more funding and reduced pressure. These claims resonated with the public – it is not too much of a stretch to say that the famous red bus promising an extra £300m a week for the NHS conveyed, at least in part, a pro-NHS and anti-austerity message.

Yet there is far less faith now that Brexit will have a positive impact on the NHS. A third expect the quality of health services to decrease as a result of Brexit, a third think the quality will stay the same, and a quarter that it will increase. But, crucially, the belief that Brexit will hurt the NHS has doubled since 2016, when only 17% thought leaving the EU would lead to a decline in the quality of health services.

Again, one’s views of Brexit tend to colour one’s expectations about its impact: six in ten Labour Remain supporters expect a decrease in NHS quality as a result of Brexit, compared with only 16% of Leave supporters.

The big unknown

The reality, of course, is that no one knows what the impact of Brexit will be, not least because no one knows what sort of Brexit the UK will end up with. In that context, it’s no surprise that unease is growing and that the country is so divided, as deadlines loom, talks seem to have stalled and the future is so unclear.

But the degree to which beliefs about the future are structured by pre-existing beliefs about Brexit itself is striking (and perhaps understandable given that we don’t know where this process will end up).

And what remains remarkable, and will be the key issue over the weeks to come, is whether this widespread Brexit pessimism – about both the outcome and its impacts – will have any effect on the overall support for Brexit. To date, this has remained remarkably stable, albeit with a slight shift towards remain in recent months.

These attitudes, however, matter. If parliament becomes deadlocked over whatever Brexit deal it is asked to vote on, it is these public attitudes that might determine how Brexit is ultimately settled.The Conversation

By Professor Anand Menon, Director of The UK in a Changing Europe and Bobby Duffy, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, King’s College London. This article is republished from The Conversation.

Martin BraisbyNo-deal Brexit: survey reveals 44% of people expect the UK to crash out of EU