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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 4 September 2017

Matrix’s Legal Support Service provides a weekly round-up of Brexit-related links and news.

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. The Financial Times has considered the constitutional challenges posed by Brexit and the risk that the withdrawal bill is seeking to confer powers on the executive which should not be allowed by Parliament. Meanwhile David Allen Green has argued that the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is more about the relationship between Parliament and the executive than about the UK leaving the EU.
  2. The House of Lords Constitution Committee has argued that Brexit and the withdrawal bill fundamentally challenges the constitutional balance between Parliament and Government, and has called for the Government to act on this criticism of the “unprecedented” transfer of powers. Meanwhile the former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, has also sounded the alarm on the Brexit bill, stating that it will allow ministers to ride roughshod over the British constitution.
  3. The Hansard Society has published a report on Parliamentary Scrutiny and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
  4. The House of Lords has debated the impact of Brexit on UK-Irish relations. Meanwhile former Northern Ireland secretary of state, Peter Hain, has stated that Northern Ireland’s future will be at risk without a post-Brexit customs deal.
  5. The BBC has reportedly seen proposal papers stating that the EU wants a separate Brexit deal for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in a bid to stave off increased tensions in the region as the bloc is worried by the UK’s Irish border proposals.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Analysis in the Financial Times suggests that British politicians are finally beginning to make decisions regarding Brexit, for example Labour’s announcement of a desire for the UK to remain part of all EU economic structures in the interim period.
  2. Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, has said he sees the process as an opportunity to “teach” the British people and others what leaving the single market means. However he has stated that the UK appears to be going backwards on agreeing a Brexit financial settlement.
  3. With pro-EU Tories threatening to join Labour’s attempt to move against a key part of the withdrawal bill, Damien Green has warned that they must back Brexit or risk a Corbyn Government. Meanwhile Chris Grayling has stated that Labour’s actions were disappointing and disrupting the bill’s passage through parliament would lead to a “legal vacuum” when the UK left the EU in March 2019. However the disaffected Tory MPs have concerns over May’s use of Henry VIII powers in the bill.
  4. Labour has decided to whip its MPs to vote against the repeal bill following agreement at the shadow cabinet meeting, calling it a ‘huge power grab’ in debate. By contrast, pro-Brexit, Eurosceptic MPs have seized on the impasse in negotiations to argue again for no deal with the EU, stating that the UK can thrive regardless. However David Davis has now stated he will consider giving Parliament greater oversight of the EU withdrawal as he seeks to head off a centrist Tory rebellion and it appears likely that Theresa May will be forced into an early tactical retreat over the bill.
  5. David Davis’ opening statement at the second reading of the Repeal Bill, stating that it will bring certainty, continuity and control post-Brexit, is available here. Meanwhile Jean-Claude Juncker has questioned David Davis’ stability and accountability.
  6. Martin Selmayr, a top EU official as chief of staff to Jean-Claude Juncker, has stated that Brexit was a ‘stupid’ decision, but one that could still be reversed.
  7. Brexit Secretary David Davis has rejected reports that the UK will offer to pay £50bn as a divorce bill to the EU in order to begin trade talks in October, calling them ‘nonsense’. Meanwhile he has stated that the ‘divorce bill’ talks could continue throughout the Brexit negotiations.
  8. Janice Morphet for the LSE Brexit Blog has argued that, post-Brexit, the OECD could replace the EU in playing a major role in shaping the UK’s public policy.
  9. The Conservative Group for Europe has produced a policy options paper considering the alternatives for transition in Brexit.
  10. The Guardian has published a leaked Home Office document on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy, which Europe’s media commentators have condemned, variously describing the plan as an extension of Donald Trump’s immigration policies, a desperate project that would hurt the UK economy and jeopardise Brexit talks, and a sign the British are heading for self-imposed isolation.
  11. A 100-strong pro-Brexit group of Conservative MPs has stated that there is no legal or moral basis for the UK to pay a divorce bill to the EU, and that in fact the EU could owe the UK €10bn for its share of the European Investment Bank. Meanwhile pro-leave MPs are preparing to launch a public fightback against a soft Brexit, gathering signatures for a letter insisting Britain must be “well and truly out” of the EU to be published on Sunday. However Tory MPs have urged Theresa May to sack frontbenchers who supported the Brexit letter, arguing that this breached collective Government responsibility.
  12. According to EU sources, Theresa May has rejected an invitation to address the European parliament in public to explain her Brexit position, instead insisting she will only talk to its leaders behind closed doors.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. Small lenders have stated that the EU choked growth through compliance costs, and therefore that Brexit may result in greater profits as the financial red tape will be removed.
  2. In defiance of fears of a Brexit slump, factory and retail sales have climbed.
  3. Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe has argued that the EU will have to start talking about trade as well as withdrawal issues soon, and that this is the politically realistic view.
  4. David Davis has spoken at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, discussing how the UK will not become isolationist following Brexit, and stating that the UK will be committed to striking new free trade agreements across the globe.
  5. Some of Britain’s biggest companies have reacted angrily after being asked by Downing Street to sign a letter backing the Government’s Brexit strategy.
  6. The EU is demanding that Britain legislate to recognise products such as champagne, parmesan and Beaufort cheese post-Brexit, stating in its position paper that some of Europe’s most sensitive exports must be protected in future trade relations.
  7. Afme Finance for Europe has published a paper discussing the need for early clarity on a Brexit transition. Meanwhile David Davis has argued that a Norway-style transition deal keeping the UK in the EEA would be the ‘worst of possible worlds’.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

EU threats that Britain would be forced to leave Europol after Brexit have been exposed as posturing, after the European Commission refused to rule out the UK having a continued relationship with the EU police agency.

Employment

Several consultancies and organisations including EY and the London Stock Exchange Group have predicted that between 75,000 and 100,000 jobs in the UK financial services industry will leave Britain post-Brexit.

Frances O’Grady has argued in The Guardian that employment rights may be put at risk through Brexit.

Following the leaked post-Brexit migration plan, firms that rely on EU workers have warned of the ‘catastrophic’ impact of its proposals to cut unskilled migration on the day of Brexit.

Health

For the LSE Brexit Blog, Joan Costa Font has argued that the cost of Brexit will damage the NHS, impacting on wage bills, increasing procurement costs and restricting choice for Britons.

Immigration

British Future has published a paper considering finding a consensus on the UK’s future immigration policy.

The Guardian has published a leaked Home Office document on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy, which has spelt out for the first time how ending the jurisdiction of the European court of justice will weaken family reunion rights for EU nationals in Britain.

Environment

The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has opened an inquiry into the UK’s energy security post-Brexit.

Top environmentalists have warned that the Brexit bill ‘gravely threatens’ the UK’s climate change protections.

Events

  1. The Times Brief Premium is hosting a Breakfast Briefing on 15 September 2017 from 8am until 10am to consider mergers and acquisitions post-Brexit.