What does Brexit mean for the equine industry?

In a new series of blogs exclusive to Your Horse, Zoe White explains all about Brexit. Zoe works for PLMR, a communications agency in London that works across the equine sector. She's keeping a close eye on Brexit and how it will affect everyone working with horses. 

Whether you work in London, or run a riding school in the countryside, you'll be affected by Brexit in some way

Whether you work in London, or run a riding school in the countryside, you'll be affected by Brexit in some way

Brexit and the Equine Sector

On 23rd June 2016, the UK chose to leave the European Union in a vote that will have ramifications for years to come. Whether you work in a multinational company in London, or run a riding school in Yorkshire, you'll be affected by Brexit in some way. 

In a series of blogs, we'll explore the variety of ways in which Brexit will impact the equestrian sector and everyone working with horses, whether you're a horse owner or run an equine business. To kick off the blog series, here's an overview of the current political landscape and where the complex process of Brexit has got to so far.

What does Brexit mean?

Throughout the whole of the second half of 2016, the Government kept saying “Brexit means Brexit”, but nobody was giving anything away about what “Brexit means Brexit” actually means. This was causing all sorts of uncertainty for people and businesses across the UK, the EU, and the world as everyone waited to hear what the UK was going to do.

It took until the 17th January, almost seven months after the referendum vote, for Prime Minister Theresa May to finally outline her plans for Brexit. In her speech, Mrs May confirmed:

  • Britain will leave the Single Market and seek the greatest possible access with a fully-reciprocal free trade deal with the EU
  • If a UK arrangement with the EU Customs Union cannot also allow UK trade deals with other countries, then the UK will not associate with the EU Customs Union
  • She will seek a mutual guarantee of the rights of EU nationals in Britain, and Britons living in Europe, as soon as possible              
  • There will be a phased process of implementation of new arrangements outside the EU from 2019
  • Most of the body of existing EU law will be converted into British law to give maximum certainty                          

So what’s happening now?

Now the Government has outlined its plan, the next hurdle is to get the plan passed through Parliament, and this needs to happen before it can trigger Article 50 (Article 50 being short for Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, which sets out the process for leaving the EU).

For a while, the Government hoped it could avoid having to take its Brexit plan to a parliamentary vote, but you might have seen the news last week that the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament must approve the Brexit strategy before the Government presses ahead.

This wasn’t exactly music to the Government’s ears as there are a number of MPs who have been very vocal in their opposition to the Brexit Bill and who have been threatening to put a spanner in the works for the Government. Nonetheless, on 1st February, in the first vote on the Bill, MPs voted by an overwhelming majority (498 to 114) in favour of the Government’s Brexit plans.

There are many steps to the legislative process, and the Bill faces three more in the Commons, before it then goes to the House of Lords where the same process then takes place there. The aim is for the Bill to be passed by both Houses of Parliament on 7th March, and with this under her belt, the Prime Minister wants to trigger Article 50 later that month.

And what does this mean for the equine sector?

So, you might ask, what does all of this mean for you? Based on the Government’s plan, Brexit will impact on:

  • Equine identification, health and breeding legislation
  • The movement of horses within the EU
  • Employment and the freedom of movement of people within the EU – e.g. riders and grooms
  • The trade of horses, equine-derived products, feed and other equine-related products
  • Equine welfare
  • Subsidies received through the Common Agricultural Policy  

Once Article 50 is triggered and Britain formally embarks on the process of Brexit, the Government will have the long task of reviewing all EU legislation that the UK is party to. It will decide which ones to incorporate into EU law wholesale, which ones to change and which ones to remove completely, and legislation tied to the issues listed above will be among the many that will have to be carefully scrutinised and dealt with.

Over the coming weeks, we'll look deeper into these issues in turn and keep you up to date as the Government gets closer to triggering Article 50.