In the increasingly surreal circus that is Brexit, things change almost from day to day and nobody seems to know what is going on.
Are we in, are we out and if so – when? Today one of the Conservative leadership challengers, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he would not rule out extending Britain’s membership of the EU beyond October.
So it may come as a surprise that the UK has not been completely idle when it comes to planning for a potential post-Brexit trade Armageddon.
A fishy business
At the end of January, the UK trade policy minister, George Hollingbery, signed a trade continuity agreement with the Faroe Islands that will see British businesses and consumers benefiting from continued trade with the Faroe Islands after Brexit – whenever that might be.
Apparently, the UK imports almost 200 million pounds’ worth of fish and crustaceans from the Faroes and the agreement will allow imports to continue tariff-free and enable businesses to trade as freely as they do now.
As an EU member, the UK is automatically part of about 40 trade agreements that the EU has with more than 70 countries. If it leaves the EU without a deal, these deals would immediately be lost.
In good company …
The new UK-Faroe Islands agreement replicates the existing trading arrangements as far as possible. It will come into effect as soon as the implementation period ends in January 2021, or in October if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
This takes the number of so-called continuity deals to ten. The others signed up until now are with the Andean countries, Norway and Iceland, the Caribbean countries, the Pacific Islands, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Switzerland, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Chile.