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Brexit round up – Fortnight commencing 24 December 2018

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

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood has stated that leaving the EU without a deal is ‘not an option’ given the threat it would pose to Britain’s security. However Andrea Leadsom has told MPs that a no deal Brexit will become the ‘default position’ if they fail to back the Government’s deal. Meanwhile Liam Fox has warned that the chances of Britain leaving the EU are ‘50-50’ if MPs vote down Theresa May’s deal.
  2. Downing Street has stated that Theresa May has been in contact with EU leaders over Christmas to try to seek the reassurances she hopes will persuade enough MPs to back her Brexit deal in January. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has used her New Year’s message to keep up pressure on MPs, urging the Commons to allow the UK to ‘turn a corner’ by voting for her Brexit deal.
  3. Theresa May has been accused of desperation after veteran Eurosceptic MP John Redwood was awarded a knighthood just days before MPs are set to vote on her proposed EU Withdrawal Agreement.
  4. According to The Guardian, a survey by the Economic and Social Research Group has found that more than half of Conservative party members would choose “no deal” over Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
  5. On 28 December, Jeremy Corbyn said MPs should have their Christmas break cut short so that a key Commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal can be held ‘as soon as possible’. The opposition leader has been criticised by other parties, including the SNP and Liberal Democrats for failing to push for the vote. He has also called on the Prime Minister to “renegotiate a customs union” with the EU if she loses the Commons vote, rebuffing fresh calls for his own party to start campaigning for a second referendum straight away.
  6. There is increasing pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to support a “people’s vote”; research by YouGov on behalf of Queen Mary University and Sussex University has found that 72% of Labour members want a second EU referendum.
  7. David Davis has called on Theresa May to further delay the crunch Commons vote on her Brexit deal in the hope the EU will put a better offer on the table.
  8. New analysis shows that DExEU – which leads Whitehall’s Brexit preparations – has spent £4,049,995 with outside consultancies in the less-than three years it has existed. A current civil servant engaged in no-deal Brexit planning has accused the Government of not being “frank” about the level of preparation happening if a Brexit deal is not agreed.
  9. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of “politicising” the capital’s New Year celebrations after the London Eye was lit up like the EU flag in a pointed rebuke of Brexit. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has warned that a second EU referendum would “further divide” the UK by heightening the tensions which already exist across the country.
  10. The Irish Independent has reported that Dublin will seek hundreds of millions of euros in emergency aid from Brussels if the UK crashes out of the EU in March without a deal.
  11. Deputy DUP leader Nigel Dodds has warned Theresa May that the DUP continues to have “principled objections” to her Brexit plans, less than two weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the deal she struck with Brussels. Meanwhile, Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, has said there was not any way in which his party could support the Prime Minister’s agreement.
  12. Almost 1,000 police officers from England and Scotland are to begin training for deployment in Northern Ireland in case of disorder from a no-deal Brexit.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The UK Government and the Swiss Federal Council have approved the transition of a trade agreement after Brexit.
  2. The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued a statement to remind  investment firms and credit institutions providing investment services of their obligations to provide clients with information on the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
  3. MPs on the EU scrutiny committee have warned that thousands of small businesses could be forced to charge VAT during the Brexit transition period.
  4. The International Trade Committee has suggested that MPs should be given veto powers on all post-Brexit trade deals.
  5. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stated that Britain should look to the low-tax Singapore for its future economic model after Brexit. During a speech in Singapore, Jeremy Hunt is also set to say that post-Brexit Britain can act as an ‘invisible chain’ between democracies around the world.
  6. According to data from the mortgage lender Nationwide, British house prices took a pre-Brexit hit in December, rising by their slowest pace in nearly six years in annual terms.
  7. The Department for International Trade has published a press release announcing that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership has come into force and has highlighted this as a potential target for post-Brexit UK trade.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Data Protection

The Government has issued draft data protection legislation to deal with Brexit.

Employment

Britain’s manufacturers are facing the biggest shortage of skilled workers since 1989 amid record levels of UK employment and falling numbers of EU27 nationals coming to the country to work since the Brexit vote, with 81% of manufacturers and 70% of service sector firms reporting difficulties finding skilled staff.

Health

The Department of Health and Social Care has published guidance for organisations that receive funding, or that are bidding for funding, from the EU Third Health Programme if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has released its response to the consultation on no-deal Brexit legislative proposals.

Immigration

The Department for Work and Pensions has issued guidance explaining the rights of EU citizens in the UK to benefits and pensions if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement .

The number of British citizens applying for Irish passports has risen to record levels, with one in five applicants coming from the UK amid continuing uncertainty over Brexit.

British nationals settled in Italy have landed a new year Brexit break after the Italian government announced they would remain legal residents of the country in the event of no deal.

Education

University leaders have said that a no-deal Brexit would constitute “one of the biggest threats” ever faced by the sector, as figures revealed a further decline in EU student enrolment, particularly in postgraduate research.

Environment

Michael Gove is to tell the Oxford Farming Conference that Theresa May’s Brexit agreement, to be voted on by MPs later this month, will ensure a smooth transition period for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU.