We are finding out more about the consequences of brexit. Here’s another issue that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.
Untangling the UK’s government systems from its involvement with the EU is non-trivial. Pretty much every government department and company will need to look at the final negotiated agreement and work out how its administrative systems will need to be change. If we assume that the EU is willing to enter into negotiations before Article 50 is invoked then that shouldn’t take more than five years or so. That is a bit faster than a normal EU trade negotiation but both sides already understand the system.
Knowing what the legal requirements are is the starting point for re-engineering IT and business processes. It is important to understand the scope of the work. Most government departments will have to analyse their systems so that they understand which of them will need changes. Most of this work should be easy because building modern IT systems generates the necessary documents. But some of the systems are not modern and so will have to be documented. That shouldn’t take more than a year or two and we can start right away.
Once we understand what we need to change and what changes we need we can get started on the main task. The first step will be to halt any other legislative changes that might interfere. Then we need to hire enough analysts and developers for the job. By the time this kicks off there may be enough of them in Europe but if not we will need to import them from either India or China. This will happen at the same time that industry also needs them so there will be competition for the best people. My rough guess is that we will need around half a million new immigrants, best case.
Worst case will be to hand the development work to the jokers that “built” the Universal Benefit system for DWP. Best case the work required will cost around £100 billion and take five years. Worst case it will be £500 billion and ten years. That is for the government half of the job. Industry’s bill will be about the same size.
I suspect that whoever wrote the two year time-limit into the Article 50 clause was well aware that it effectively makes leaving impossible.