Johnson triumph ends Brexit deadlock, but experts warn of unprecedented deadline for EU trade deal
UK business law firms have reacted with relief to the landslide general election victory secured by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. The poll handed Johnson a comfortable majority in Parliament after what political commentators agreed was the most important national UK election in a generation.
The result will allow Johnson to deliver his much-repeated promise to ‘get Brexit done’, at least when it comes to securing the UK’s formal exit from the EU by the end of January under the terms of the withdrawal agreement.
The strengthening of the pound and rallying of the FTSE 100 index following the result has underlined the widely held view in the City of London that the risks associated with leaving the EU were trumped by those linked with ongoing political deadlock and the possibility of a left-leaning Labour party securing power.
‘There is likely to be a collective sigh of relief from Brexiteers, those tired of hearing about Brexit and those who have been feeling the brunt of the uncertainty of the last three and a half years of unknowns,’ said a briefing released by Hogan Lovells’ government relations and public affairs team.
However, the firm warned that relief could be ‘short-lived’, given the Johnson’s pledge to agree a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020.
‘The weight of consensus from trade experts is that negotiating a deal of this size within 11 months would be unprecedented. With a sizeable majority, the Prime Minister will need to balance sticking to his promises and his negotiating guns with realism about how quickly a good deal can be done – and how long he has to get one.’
Pinsent Mason’s partner and Brexit expert Clare Francis agreed that the strength of Johnson’s majority in Parliament could allow him to extend the deadline.
“Could this be reconsidered in light of their success?” she asked. “Agreeing a future trading relationship of this complexity may prove as difficult, if not more so, than the withdrawal negotiations which have dominated UK politics for the past three years."