How disabled people could be affected in the case of a Brexit No Deal

Sun,7 April 2019

The Government has published a series of papers on how the UK will cope in the event of a no-deal.

Read our Brexit manifesto: The implications of Brexit for disability rights: Influencing future debate and policy

Find out more about Brexit and Human Rights

Key guides which might affect disabled people in health, work, education and travel

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Operation yellowjacket - Preparing for and responding to short-term disruption arising from a no deal exit is a significant challenge.

Data protection

There would be no immediate change in the UK’s own data protection standards. This is because the Data Protection Act 2018 would remain in place and the EU Withdrawal Act would incorporate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law to sit alongside it.

Disability related funding and research

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is an EU Research and Innovation programme which provides about €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020); the UK has secured €4.6 billion of funding to date (14.3% of the total). The UK is currently a net contributor to the EU budget. The funded projects are wide ranging but include research and innovation on technologies to break down barriers for people with disabilities.

After Brexit UK organisations may be unable to access funding for Horizon 2020 projects after exit day – the government has guaranteed to maintain funding for competitively bid for EU projects submitted before we leave the EU, including Horizon 2020 projects.

Medicines and medical equipment

Batch testing medicines if there's no Brexit deal

Ensuring blood and blood products are safe if there’s no Brexit deal

How medicines, medical devices and clinical trials would be regulated if there’s no Brexit deal

Submitting regulatory information on medical products if there’s no Brexit deal

Quality and safety of organs, tissues and cells if there’s no Brexit deal

These are regulated by EU standards. The Government has promised to maintain these and the people in the UK will not be affected.

See also the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s letter to health and care providers

Studying in the UK or EU


Erasmus+ is the EU funding programme for education, youth, training and sport, which provides €14.7 billion in grants for exchanges and collaboration over 7 years (2014-2020).

The Government has promised to underwrite Erasmus+ funding for all successful bids submitted while we are still in the EU, providing the EU will allow us to do this (by no means certain). If agreed with the EU, funding for successful bids will continue for the lifetime of those projects.

European Social Fund

UK organisations would be unable to access EU funding for European Social Fund projects after exit day. The ESF funds employment schemes, education and training, to support society’s most disadvantaged people and help them acquire relevant skills to support entry into employment and progression in work.

Travel/settlement in the EU

Buses and coaches travelling abroad

UK bus and coach operators could no longer rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued Community Licences. EU countries may choose to recognise that UK-issued operator licences but this cannot be guaranteed.

The UK is currently part of the  Interbus Agreement, which allows bus and coach operators to carry out occasional services between the participating countries. This also ceases but the UK intends to join as an independent member and to have this in place for 29 March 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Car insurance

UK motorists would need to carry a Green Card as proof of third party motor insurance cover when driving in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.

UK motor insurance providers will continue to be required to provide third party motor insurance cover for travel to EEA countries.

Driving licence

Your driving licence may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU.

If you move to another EU country to live, you may not be able to exchange your licence after the UK has left the EU.


Airlines wishing to operate flights between the UK and the EU would have to seek individual permissions between the the UK and that country. The UK will also have to make separate treaties with each EU state.

Mobile phones

You may not be able to get guaranteed surcharge-free roaming, where you can make calls, send texts and use mobile data services for no more than you would be charged when in the UK.

Passport status change

As a British passport holder (including passports issued by the Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar), you’ll be considered a third country national (like Australia, Canada and the USA) - under the Schengen Border Code when you travel to Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

You will need to comply with different rules to enter and travel around the Schengen area. Your passport must have been issued within the last ten years and should have at least 6 months validity left on it.

Pet travel - guide and assistance dogs

Scenarios vary according how the EU classifies the UK.

The UK becomes a ‘third country’, linked to a country’s animal health status. It could have one of three categorisations: Part 1 listed, Part 2 listed or ‘unlisted’. On arrival in the EU, pet owners travelling with their pet would still be required to report to a Travellers’ Point of Entry.

Part 1: Changes needed to documentation but no change for pet owners from what they currently need to do in terms of health preparations.

Part 2: Before a dog could travel from the UK to an EU country for the first time, it would  need to be taken to an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days in advance to ensure the dog has a microchip and rabies vaccination. The OV would issue a health certificate. This  would be valid for ten days after the date of issue for entry into the EU, and for four months of onward travel within the EU. Health certificates would have to be issued for each trip to the EU.

Unlisted:  You would need to discuss preparations for your dog’s travel with an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least four months in advance of the date you wish to travel. You would need to prove your dog is effectively vaccinated against rabies. If your dog has never had a vaccination or it is not up to date you will need to have a blood test 30 days after the vaccination followed by a further three-month waiting period before you can travel with your dog.

Republic of Ireland and the Common Travel area

If you are an Irish or British citizen, you will continue to have the right to enter and remain in the UK or the republic, due to pre-existing law.

Travel to Crown Dependencies (Jersey; Guernsey; Isle of Man) is also unaffected.


The UK will continue to have a VAT system after it leaves the EU. The revenue that VAT provides is vital for funding public services. The VAT rules relating to UK domestic transactions will continue to apply to businesses as they do now. Presumably VAT exemption rules will still apply.

Workplace rights

Currently workplace rights and protections come from EU law and including Working Time Regulations, and TUPE regulations, and other employment protection. The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brings across the powers from EU Directives, which means that workers in the UK will continue to be entitled to those rights under post-Brexit UK law. The question is for how long before successive Governments start to ‘tinker’ with the rules.