Brexit – January 2020 Update

In this article, Nick Parkinson, Associate at Travlaw, discusses the current state of play on Brexit as the UK approaches the 31/01/2020 deadline, as always with reference to the Travel & Leisure industry.

The UK looks destined to leave the EU at midnight on Friday 31st January 2020.  Finally, Boris Johnson will ‘Get Brexit Done’.  Or will he? 

Getting the Withdrawal Bill Done

The government’s withdrawal bill will be put before the UK Parliament, the European Parliament and, finally, the European Council for approval.  The Brexit process has proven to be very complex and unpredictable so far; however very few now doubt the fact that Boris will, at the very least, get the ‘Withdrawal Bill’ done.   It is widely expected that the UK will officially leave the EU on 01/02/20.  In doing so, this will trigger a ‘transition period’ until 31/12/20.

The Transition Period

As of 01/02/20 the UK will no longer be a member of the EU.  Brexit has been ‘done’.  The UK will, however, remain a member of the EU Single Market and Customs Union until at least 31/12/20.  Perhaps longer.   For now, therefore, some may say that Brexit has been ‘done’ in name only.

So what will change on 01/02/20, will we get a Big Boris Bounce when Big Ben Bongs?  No. Little, if anything, will change.  The free movement of people, goods, services and capital between the UK and the EU will continue as before.  As far as the travel industry are concerned, it is therefore ‘business as normal’.  Until 31/12/2020 at least!

Our Future Relationship with the EU

The purpose of the transition period is to allow the UK and the EU time to negotiate the terms of their future relationship.  The divorce papers may have been finalised, but the UK are still amicably living in the same house as the EU until the UK decide where to live.  There are three possible outcomes after the ‘transition period’ expires on 31/01/20:

  1. Trade Agreement. The UK and the EU could agree a trade deal.  We have an ‘indication’ as to what they are hoping to agree from the ‘political declaration’ but this is scant on detail, it is not legally binding and there is no suggestion that protecting the travel industry is being treated as a priority.
  2. The UK and the EU are able to agree an extension of time if required.  Some may say this is likely due to the fact that negotiating trade deals is a complex and lengthy process.
  3. No Deal. The UK could leave the EU without a deal.  This outcome is expected to offer the most challenges for the travel industry and it simply not possible to summarise the implications of this outcome for the purpose of this article.  Our previous articles below may, however, be of interest:

Looking at the above, those that thought Brexit had ‘been done’ may be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja-vu.  Progress will, however, be made in that the UK will soon start to flesh out what is currently a flimsy ‘political declaration’ into a comprehensive trade deal.   All eyes will therefore be on the progress of those negotiations and what protections will be in place for the travel industry.  No doubt that threats to ‘walk away without a deal’ will also be made along the way.

Nick Parkinson, Associate, Travlaw

Have a Query? Get In Touch

Brexit is, of course, a highly complex issue with potentially significant ramifications for the travel industry.  We have a fantastic team here at Travlaw that can cover the needs of your business whether that be in relation to Brexit, disputes, employment issues, drafting T&C’s, compliance etc.  Indeed, we act for numerous tour operators, travel agents, hotels, airlines all over the world and we would be delighted to discuss Brexit, or indeed any travel law related issue, that affects your business. 

Feel free to contact the author of this article or any other member of the Travlaw team on 0113 258 0033 or at


This article was originally published on: 16 January 2020

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