The Davis Downside Dossier

Last updated 16 January 2021

In October 2016, David Davis, the then Brexit secretary, told the House of Commons that “there will be no downside to Brexit at all, and considerable upsides”.

On this page we list the ‘considerable upsides’ and also the downsides, as we embark on Brexit after the end of the transition period – with the best possible access that we’ve been able to negotiate with the EU.

At the moment there are plenty of downsides, though the upsides are more elusive. We recognise the upsides may not become apparent just yet, but as they do we will add them to balance things up.

We also maintain a list of ‘upsides’ that the government has claimed, which are in fact fake. We call this the Brexit ‘benefit’ myths. Each one is debunked with verifiable evidence.

If you know of any specific upsides or downsides, please email with a link to a confirming story from a reputable source.

David Davis MP
Image by Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Note, as of 8 January, the latest up or downsides will appear at the top of the list instead of being in alphabetical order. This allows frequent visitors to more easily check the latest additions.

The ‘considerable’ upsides

4. Share trading. The UK will bring trading in Swiss shares back to London in the coming weeks, marking the first significant split from EU policy on financial services since the end of the Brexit transition period.

3. Advanced warning on goods: From July this year (2021), the UK will start receiving advance data on all goods coming from the EU into Great Britain, something which has not previously been possible under EU rules.

2. Fishing: Britain’s fishermen will increase their allowable catch from British waters over the next five years, although the precise amount is disputed and some in the industry claim the new trade deal represents a betrayal.

1. Gibraltar: To avoid a hard border, Gibraltar will join the EU’s Schengen zone and follow other EU rules, while remaining a British Overseas Territory. The deal was announced by Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya, just hours before the UK exits the EU.

The downsides

48. British expats:  Britons living in the EU face financial headaches as European banks hike international payment fees and British banks close their accounts.

47. Galileo: Britain has lost access to the encrypted public regulated service of the Galileo global navigation satellite system and will no longer be able to play any part in the future development of it.

46. Ferries: Stena Line has redeployed a ferry, the Stena Embla, away from its intended Birkenhead to Belfast route to meet extra demand for direct shipments from Rosslare to mainland Europe, as traders change supply chains to avoid additional paperwork in Britain. 

45. Aviation: UK airlines can no longer offer services between EU member states (eg London-Frankfurt-Warsaw) or domestic services within them (eg Paris-Marseille) and have lost the right to operate onward passenger services from EU member states to destinations in non-member states (eg London-Amsterdam-Bangkok).

44. The Falklands: The Islands are excluded from the UK-EU trade deal. Products coming from the islands to the EU may now face tariffs. It’s a major concern for the economy of the islands, which exports 90 percent of its fish to Europe.

43. Price rises 1: Ford has raised the UK list prices of some of its models, blaming post-Brexit rules of origin tariffs according to Autocar magazine. The Fiesta ST Edition went up by £1,695 between Dec and Jan, with Puma ST getting £1,920 more expensive.

42. Spanish tax increases: UK-based owners of Spanish properties now have a 24 percent tax rate on income. This compares with a 19 percent tax rate previously, before the transition period ended. It is due to Britain becoming a third country. Spanish tax authorities will also no longer allow any expenses to be deducted, which means gross income is taxable.

41. Mobile phone roaming: The UK’s trade deal with the EU does not rule out additional costs for UK customers using their mobile phones in EU countries. The biggest UK operators have said they do not plan to reintroduce roaming charges, but the BBC says it may not be that simple in the coming years.

40. Lorry parks: The government has built a 2,000 truck capacity lorry park on compulsorily purchased land just off Junction 10A of the M2o in Kent, against the wishes of local residents in the village of Sevington.

39. Share trading: The three biggest venues in London that handle European shares saw almost all of this business (about $5bn) shift into the EU on the first trading day after Brexit. Chief executive of Aquis Exchange Plc told Bloomberg that 99.6 percent of its European stock trading moved to Paris, described as a “spectacular own goal” for Britain post-Brexit.

38. Food 3: A raft of red tape plus new checks at the border could add £3bn in costs for food importers, according to the UK’s Food and Drink Federation. That’s about an 8 percent increase – some of which could work its way down to prices paid at checkouts.

37. Tech start ups: For the very first time, the European Union will become a direct shareholder in startups. This will be possible via the creation of one of the biggest investment funds in Europe. Brexit Britain will not be eligible.

36. Amazon: It is no longer possible to access Amazon UK from the EU, depriving UK sellers of a 440 million customer base in Europe. UK merchants will be unable to fulfill EU orders using Amazon’s logistics networks.

35. Architects: As a result of Brexit, architects from the UK will have to demonstrate compliance on a state-by-state basis before calling themselves and operating as architects. See also Professional Qualifications below.

34. Business travellers now face fines of up to €20,000 if they fail to obtain special permits for visits to conferences or exhibitions in the EU after Brexit, as there is no Brexit deal for the service industry.

33. Chemicals industry is now required to operate a separate registration system for the near 5,000 substances made by UK companies, details of which are currently held in the EU REACH database, at an ‘immediate cost’ of about £1bn.

32. Consumer safety: UK loses access to EU RAPEX rapid alert system (also known as Safety Gate)a notification system used by Trading Standards to share information about unsafe products found on the marketplace meaning more dangerous goods and toys could now enter the UK internal market.

31. Crime: UK has lost its access the Schengen Information system, an EU database containing details of criminal suspects. British police accessed the database 603 million times in 2018.

30. Customs declarations: An additional 250 million customs declarations will now be required annually, needing an estimated 50,000 form fillers at a cost of about £7bn.

29. Erasmus: The British government has decided not to participate in the student exchange scheme know as Erasmus, for financial reasons. It will create its own cheaper alternative.

28. EU family members of British citizens no longer have the automatic right to join them to live in the UK and now have to comply with entry criteria including income requirements.

27. Exporting meat products: Exporters of food products of animal origin to the EU are now required to pay for an export health certificate for each consignment costing around £200. This also applies to ‘exports’ to Northern Ireland.

26. Exports 1: At least 50 major UK retailers, including Marks and Spencer and Tesco, are in the process of going through their products lines, to establish how many of them will now be subject to tariffs from the EU. River Island and H&M have both confirmed to ITV News they expect to pay penalty tariffs on some clothing sent between their UK and EU businesses.

25. Fishing 1: The shellfish industry now faces a bureaucratic mountain, with a wave of form-filling, certification and tariffs to deal with. Traders who sell live crabs and lobsters into the EU now expect delays caused by bottlenecks and new rules.

24. Fishing 2: The Yorkshire Post has learned Whitby fishing crews “will be worse off in 2021 than before they left the EU”. DEFRA Secretary George Eustice, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson were accused of “betraying” fisherman worse then before because they “knew exactly what they were doing when they devastated coastal communities”.

23. Food 1: The EU-UK food chain will be “slower, more complex and more expensive for months if not years” according to Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation.

22. Food 2: There is no equivalence agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to reduce or eliminate checks on agricultural goods, like the EU offered to New Zealand and Japan.

21. Football: UK football clubs can no longer sign under-18s and are restricted to only three overseas signings under the age of 21, and only six foreign players per season.

20. Freedom of movement ends: British people have lost the automatic right to live and work across 26 nations of the EU (excluding Ireland).

19. Freight costs: The cost of moving freight from France to the UK surged to more than four times the usual level, after Brexit and a virulent new strain of the coronavirus complicated supply chains.

18. Manufacturing: After 1 January 2022, manufacturers will need to meet two different standards and will have to label products UKCA for the home market, and CE for those exported to the EU, adding costs to certification, manufacturing and stocking.

17. Meat exports: Government guidance on Brexit, updated on 28 December, states that UK producers of “chilled meat preparations”, are “prohibited” from exporting their goods to Europe as of 1 January. This includes chilled raw sausages, chilled mince, ungraded eggs, and some unpasteurised milk.

16. Medical insurance: UK holidaymakers travelling in the EU now need medical insurance cover. Failure to take out the necessary insurance could result in hospital bills of £2,000 for food poisoning or £14,000 for a heart attack.

15. Mutual recognition: There is no mutual recognition of conformity assessments any more. British authorities are unable to certify goods made in the UK meet EU standards adding costs to domestic manufacturers and suppliers.

14. Netflix: Because the UK is no longer part of the digital single market, cross-border portability of online content ceased to apply from 1 January. UK users travelling to the EU will be unable to access the UK streaming library.

13. Northern Ireland (Irish Sea) customs border: Collectively, traders now need to file 11 million new customs declarations for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

12. Packaging 1: All wood packaging materials including pallets must now be heat-treated and marked according to the ISPM15 international standard. Any business that does not comply could face shipments being rejected and, in some cases, fines.

11. Passport queues: Britons are no longer allowed to use fast lanes at European airports and Eurostar terminals.

10. Pets: To visit the EU, dogs now need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, with a health certificate issued by a vet 10 days before the visit. They must go though a designated TPE (travellers point of entry).

9. Professional qualifications: There is no mutual recognition of professional qualifications any more, which means professionals with UK qualifications no longer have the automatic right to practice or work across the EU27.

8. Road hauliers: UK operators are now only able to conduct one cabotage trip in the EU, while EU trucks have the possibility of doing two cabotage trips in the UK after a loaded inbound movement, according to the Road Haulage Association.

7. Rules of origin: To avoid tariffs, British exporters to the EU need to comply with complex rules of origin to provide evidence of sufficient local content to qualify for tariff exemption.

6. Safety and Security declaration: Around 250 million safety and security declarations now need to be made by UK hauliers, adding extra costs to 50 percent of our exports.

5. Second home owners: UK citizens with second homes in the EU are now only allowed to spend 90 days there, in any 180 day period.

4. Seed potatoes: The EU has banned the import of seed potatoes, in a move which will be a “disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers”, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claims.

3. Sky streaming services: We are no longer entitled to stream Sky TV outside the UK using Sky Go, Sky Kids, Sky Sports, Sky Sports Mobile TV and Sky Sports Box Office apps. Some Sky apps allow you to download your favourite shows and movies over WiFi before you leave home to watch offline while you’re abroad. This also applies to other streaming services (see Netflix above).

2. Trade 1: Over 150 UK and EU firms have dramatically changed plans due to Brexit, including many who now refuse to supply goods to the UK. The list was compiled by Edwin Hayward, author of Slaying Brexit Unicorns.

1. VAT: EU exporters to the UK are expected to collect the tax at source, and pay to register for the scheme. Most won’t, unless we form the bulk of their market, so “we do not ship to UK” will become more common. This could provide a small boost for UK operators, if they can fill the gap, but it limits consumer choice. (Also see Trade 1 above)