On Wednesday, the Prime Minister will inform her European partners that Britain intends to leave the EU. Thereafter, negotiations will commence with these partners over the form that departure will take. This much is common knowledge. Less discussed, less understood, though no less important is the to-do list that confronts the government at home. A successful Brexit depends as much on dealing with the challenges at home as it does on the negotiations in Brussels.
I recently discussed (alongside a photo of Tim Barrow being beheaded) the kinds of administrative challenges that await. And these are about to hit home in earnest. The acid test of intra-Whitehall coordination will come when negotiations start. It seems likely that we will need to start recruiting the people necessary to make a system of customs controls work. We will also need to figure out how best to replace those regulatory functions that European institutions have carried out for us to date. What, to take but one example, will replace the EASA, Europe’s airline safety regulator, if the UK withdraws from it?
Moreover, a series of legislative hurdles must also be cleared. According to the Hansard Society, Brexit will be the biggest legislative review exercise ever undertaken by Whitehall. Much of this activity will focus around the so-called Great Repeal Bill, widely acknowledged as an almost comically misleading piece of nomenclature for a gargantuan piece of legislative incorporation.