It has taken more than three and a half years of politics, three prime ministers and two elections, but the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on 31st January 2020 at 11pm.
We can expect celebrations and protests across the country, with a clock counting down the last hour projected on to No 10 Downing Street.
But at Continuum, we are looking at what happens next – and the answers are not as clear as we all might wish.
Keep calm and carry on?
At first, we might find the whole thing an anti-climax. The UK will remain in the single market and the customs union until the end of the year under a transition period negotiated by former prime minister Theresa May.
This means that there is no need to stockpile spaghetti or wine – or even lifesaving drugs from European pharmaceutical manufacturers.
During this time, the UK will continue to observe EU rules and pay into the EU’s budget. To all intents and purposes, we remain an EU member until January 2021.
You can still travel freely to Europe, drive on the continent, take your pet abroad and use your European Health Insurance Card. EU citizens living in the UK will also see their current rights remain in place. It definitely will look like business as usual.
But behind the scenes, things will be more dramatic. The real negotiations have only just begun. There is likely to be an uphill battle to get a trade deal done, with agreements to be reached on everything from security and intelligence cooperation to fishing quotas.
We know little of the plans for these negotiations. Boris Johnson is reluctant to reveal specific goals, preferring to keep his cards close to his chest as a negotiating stance.
What has changed?
What do we know? From today, the UK will no longer have a voice in the EU. The UK will lose all of its Members of the European Parliament. We will no longer be able to influence EU law through the European Commission or to take a hand in Europe’s politics through the European Council.
During the transition period the UK will continue having to follow those rules.
However, the UK is now technically outside the EU, and now free to negotiate trade deals with other countries, which was impossible as an EU member, as well as hammering out a deal with the EU itself. A trade deal with the US is seen as critical, and a favourable agreement could see the rest of the world following suit.
Pessimists believe that this will take much longer than a year, and that an extension to the transition is inevitable. The Prime Minister, on the other hand is confident that deals can and will be done.
What does this all mean to you?
With a long transition, it may be easy to be lulled into thinking that Brexit will only affect you if you run a business with suppliers or customers overseas.
But leaving Europe after the best part of 50 years will mean disruption. There could be a Brexit boom or a Brexit fizzle, depending on how well the negotiations go. You need to be prepared, and this is where Continuum can help.
If you have an investment portfolio – you may need to look at your holdings. Some stocks might do well from Brexit – others may face a downturn. Sitting down with a Continuum expert could help you see where the risks lie, and ways to introduce greater diversification to ride out any storms.
If you have a retirement plan – you might want to look at how leaving Europe will affect them. If investments feel the effect of Brexit, you pension pot could too. Our experts could look at ways to manage the potential effects of Brexit on your pension savings.
If you have a mortgage – the chances are that there will be changes to the interest rate. Getting the best mortgage deal possible is vital at any time and especially during times of economic upheaval. Naturally, our aim is to help you find it.
If you have property or business interests in Europe – you may need to make some changes. Selling or acquiring property or assets on the continent may change. You can call on our expertise to deal with the financial side of things.
In a nutshell, you need to prepare for the financial effects of Brexit and get an expert on your side who can call on the resources you need. At Continuum, we are ready to provide the expertise to help you deal with an uncertain, post Brexit world.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
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