Political Corner: Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit strategy isn’t optimal for anyone

Taking a hard-line stance on Brexit is dividing the Conservative party, the UK, and global trade

Canada’s current trade agreements are with the EU, not with the UK separately. Photo: Christopher Furlong/AFP/Getty Images

By: Kelly Grounds, Peak Associate

Boris Johnson has been prime minister of the United Kingdom for less than two months and things are already going terribly. With the current Brexit deadline of October 31 swiftly approaching, there does not appear to be a possibility of things improving for the country.

The problem with Johnson’s plans for the UK and Brexit is his claim that he has no intentions of seeking a third extension of the deadline, meaning that a no-deal Brexit is beginning to be a possibility. This would mean that instead of having 21 months to slowly transition out of the European Union (EU), as has been previously proposed, the UK would find themselves suddenly and completely out of the EU on November 1, without any renegotiated trade agreements with the remaining EU countries. Subsequently, shortages of essentials like medicine, massive standstills in trade, and a potential recession could be a very real possibility. This is not an ideal scenario.

Johnson reportedly has a withdrawal agreement that could avoid the chaos of the previously proposed Brexit deals. However, in an attempt to avoid having the deal attacked in Parliament — a difficulty faced by his predecessor Theresa May — Johnson suspended Parliament until October 14. In theory, this move would put pressure on all MPs to work with Johnson’s deal rather than allowing for lengthy challenges, giving the UK a better shot at an orderly exit.

The immediate aftermath was anything but orderly, however, as MPs immediately pushed forward a bill that would force Johnson to not allow the UK to leave without a deal. In response, Johnson suspended the 21 members who had voted for the bill from his Conservative party. Since then, several other members have left the party, including Johnson’s own brother, Jo Johnson.

In all of the Brexit chaos, we cannot forget that Canada also has a stake in this. The UK is Canada’s third largest trading partner. Their partnership was strengthened under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU. This means that come October 31, the UK will be removed from both the EU and CETA. This would cause Canada to lose access to their existing UK partnership should a no-deal Brexit come to pass. In that case, unless Canada could quickly renegotiate trade deals with what would almost certainly be a UK in chaos, Canadian consumers would be hit hard.