Brexit Day Is Here -- But Change Is A Year Away

So today's the big day? News presenters are travelling the length and breadth of the country to bring back views from the public.

As they do so, experts of all varieties find themselves dragged to ports and airports, as well as the "red wall" of Labour seats in the North, to pontificate on the biggest damp squib in history -- Brexit day.

No, it isn't just you. Those travel, business, pharmaceutical and HR experts staring down the camera today are all agreed on one thing. Come tomorrow, nothing will have changed. No blue passports, no new line at customs, no differences in hiring and no real impact on the business world.

The truth is, the UK hasn't truly left anything. We're in a holding pattern, circling the EU until a year's time, when the real change happens. 

If advertisers and marketers need proof, I would suggest Googling the phrase "despite Brexit uncertainty" and you'll find just about any piece of research into marketing budgets or ad spending will show they are on the up "despite" question marks over the UK's future trading relationship with the EU.

Just this week we had AA/Warc revealing that the third quarter of 2019 was the 25th consecutive quarter of growth in UK advertising spending. Overall spending was up 5.6% for the quarter to reach just under GBP6bn.

Today, on Brexit day, we have GfK also announcing that consumer confidence has seen a Boris surge in January -- up two points compared to the corresponding month a year ago.

This is not to say that nothing is set to change, but rather we're marking today as the final day of something when really, we're not truly going to wake up to a different UK until January 1st 2021. That's when whatever new trading arrangements negotiated in the year ahead will kick in.

At the moment, the only thing we know for sure is the UK will not be implementing Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive. It's an open sign to the tech giants, and American trade negotiators, that the UK wants to go easy on website and not hold them personally responsible for copyright infringements posted on users' timelines. 

As for data, it's hard to imagine the UK will pull out of GDPR, and it's very hard to imagine that data will not continue to flow freely between the UK and the EU in a year's time. 

So, for now, there's a lot of talk about this being an end, but ultimately it's just a day upon which on 11pm London time (midnight in most of the EU) the UK will move to being in a transition period of leaving the EU rather than being a full member.

Nobody will notice any difference. Ad spending will continue to rise, and every report that is mentioned in any media outlet featuring relatively positive news will be preceded by "despite Brexit uncertainty".

Change is coming -- just not at 11pm today.

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