Theresa May has become our Prime Minister. It is anticipated that she will take a leading role in any Brexit negotiations. She will be supported in this by her Cabinet team, which includes David Davies as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
What is clear and sensible, is that Government will want to push for some idea of what a post-Brexit deal with the EU might look like before invoking the now well-known and much debated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Leaving aside the potential macro-economic effects of any future deal, a key question for any UK business that trades with the EU and around the world, is whether we stay inside the European Economic Area (EEA) -in which case it will be business as usual with the EU, with exceptions for agriculture and fisheries - the 'Norway Model' - or not,in which case a new bilateral trade deal will be required.
A third possibility is a half-way house, where as a trade-off for concessions on restricting free movement of people, we get more limited EEA access. This third way is unprecedented, and for the moment political positioning requires that we must demand it, while EU leaders reject the notion of 'cherry-picking' its fundamental single market principles.
Inside or out of the EEA, we will still have to conclude trade deals with the rest of the world. We could re-join EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), which has the benefit of trade deals with 37 countries plus the EU.
The uncertainty will persist for some time - perhaps we will have a better idea in six months, perhaps not. In the meantime however, there are practical steps to consider and strategic thinking that can be done so that you are in a position to react as likely outcomes begin to emerge.
This is hard to do in the current uncertain situation, but what you can do is identify those elements of your business that will be affected by changed trading arrangements, and appoint people to keep a watching brief on developments. Questions you might ask yourself include:
If you would like to discuss any aspect of Brexit, please contact the partner or lawyer you principally deal with, or any member of our Brexit team.