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The authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations

Politics and Society

Relationship with the EU

This fact was correct when it was updated on 21 Sep 2020

What is a cliff-edge Brexit?

This was a term used by critics of Brexit to describe the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement. A cliff-edge Brexit would have meant that the arrangements for co-operation with the EU would end overnight with no transition period and have led to significant disruption to trade and security arrangements. That was avoided when the UK ratified the Withdrawal Agreement enabling it to leave the EU on 31January 2020. However, if the UK’s negotiations with the EU on the future relationship fail, it is possible there will be another ‘cliff edge’, with a radical change in trading arrangements on 31 December 2020 when transition ends. Even with the sort of deal now envisaged, there will be substantial adjustments and dislocation. How disruptive will depend on the success of preparations.

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