Sunday 21 July 2019

How to prepare for D1ND (Day One, No Deal)

It's bordering on the ridiculous. Kim Bielenberg on what might happen if the UK crashes out of the EU

No passing: a mock customs post set up at Ravensdale, Co Louth as anti-Brexit campaigners hold a go-slow protest across the Border. Photo by Niall Carson
No passing: a mock customs post set up at Ravensdale, Co Louth as anti-Brexit campaigners hold a go-slow protest across the Border. Photo by Niall Carson
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

It's time to get ready for D1ND. In case you have not been paying attention to Brexit, and your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of the word, the acronym stands for Day One, No Deal.

The British border police use the word D1ND to describe the preparations required for the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal. The authorities want to avoid an apocalypse of 10-mile lorry jams and food shortages, but they are not making a great fist of it so far.

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So what can we expect if we wake up with D1ND in Ireland on the morning of March 30? Should we stock up on yards of toilet roll, sheds full of sliced pans and cans of petrol - and will we be able to drown our sorrows by going on a duty-free booze cruise in the Irish Sea?

Will there be shortages of goods in shops - like the bread panic in the snowstorm?

DCU Economist Professor Edgar Morgenroth, who compiled reports on the effects of Brexit when he was in the Economic and Social Research Institute, says there could be turmoil in transport in the event of no deal. He says delays in moving goods through customs could lead to shortages of certain products.

Keeping a store of toilet rolls may be advisable, as nearly all our lavatory paper comes from the UK. Otherwise, you might have to cut up rectangles of newspaper, as in days of yore. Ireland also imports 42pc of its petrol and diesel from the UK. "If a no-deal seems likely, there may come a point when I'll have to consider keeping a spare can of petrol. It could only be temporary, but it is possible," said Morgenroth. There is also no reckoning with how consumers can panic. We saw during Storm Emma how bread disappeared from shelves even before the blizzards hit.

Will there be price hikes if there is a no-deal?

Huge price increases for many goods, including many of the most popular Irish grocery brands, are seen as inevitable if the UK crashes out. Iconic 'Irish brands' such as Lyon's Tea and HB ice cream come from the UK - and the news is bleak for chocoholics.

If there is a hard Brexit, Ireland and the UK would be expected to trade under World Trade Organisation rules and this would mean hefty tariffs on many goods coming in. Any delays of goods caused by extra customs checks would also add to costs.

The ESRI has estimated that tariffs and other border red tape would add up to €1,400 in costs to the average Irish household.

The price of bread and cereals would soar by 30pc, coffee and tea by 20pc, and meat by 24pc. Sugar, jam, chocolate and confectionery would rise in price by 27pc.

Will I be stopped crossing the Border?

Ordinary punters should still be able to cross the border freely because Ireland and the UK will be part of a common travel area. That is if they are not delayed by queues of lorries trying to get through customs.

Getting a straight answer from a government minister about whether no-deal would mean a hard border proved to be next to impossible this week.

Quizzed on the matter on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed proved to be as slippery as an eel in a bucket full of olive oil.

Some kind of customs checks are seen as inevitable. Otherwise, if the UK did trade deals with other countries, we could be inundated with the notorious chlorinated chickens from the US, or cheap Brazilian beef. Revenue has hired 400 extra staff to deal with the customs requirements after March 29.

Will I be able to buy duty-free booze on the Irish Sea?

If the UK crashes out, there is likely to be a revival of the "booze cruise". Passenger should be able to travel out to sea to avail of cheap duty-free prices on alcohol and cigarettes.

Will they stop my cross-border shopping trip to Newry?

It depends what you are buying. In a no-deal situation, duties will only apply to goods brought from the UK to Ireland by consumers once their combined value exceeds €430.

So, that gives ordinary shoppers some leeway. However, those trying to fill up their car boot with booze and fags are likely to be hit.

The duty-free allowances are one litre of spirits and 200 cigarettes. Revenue Commissioners chairman Niall Cody acknowledged this week that collecting customs on cross-border shopping would be a big challenge.

Economist Edgar Morgenroth said there could also be restrictions imposed on those shopping for meat in the North.

Is it likely that I will be charged an arm and a leg by my mobile phone company for taking selfies next to Big Ben?

Brexit has inevitably prompted fears that mobile phone users will again be hit by hefty roaming charges once they arrive in Britain, or when they drive over the border into the North. This is unlikely to happen, however. Both Three Ireland and Vodafone have said that they will not be reintroducing roaming charges after Brexit.

There are rumours about planes being grounded. Will all my holidays be in ­Ballybunion from now on?

Hopefully, you will be able to fly, but there are still some doubts in certain quarters.

Before Christmas, the UK and EU announced short-term plans to allow planes to fly between UK and EU airports in the event of no deal. This agreement would last for a year. However, some questions have been raised about where Aer Lingus would be allowed to fly unhindered, because of the ownership structure of its parent company IAG.

Under current rules, in order to maintain open access to European skies, airlines must have a majority of their shareholders based in the EU. The European Commission has reportedly expressed doubt about whether IAG, which also owns British Airways and Iberia, will continue to satisfy that requirement after Brexit.

However, the Aer Lingus chief executive Sean Doyle said in recent days he was confident that the airline can continue to operate.

If all else fails can I at least watch the chaos unfolding on BBC News?

Even that is in some doubt. The news agency Bloomberg recently reported that the BBC is in talks with Irish and Dutch authorities to obtain licences allowing it to continue broadcasting across the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

There are also fears some other channels will be blacked out. But with any luck, British ministers and parliamentarians will get their act together, and put off Brexit or agree some kind of compromise deal that retains an open border.

In that case it will be alright on the night, but with Theresa May's unique talent for unleashing chaos, don't count on it.

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