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Brexit round up – Week commencing 11 February 2019

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. Three former Tory Cabinet Ministers – Owen Paterson, Iain Duncan Smith and Nicky Morgan – have warned Theresa May that the Irish backstop needs more than “tweaks” if her Brexit deal is to get through Parliament.
  2. Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said he is ‘ready for battle’ on Brexit after his new political party got the green light from electoral watchdogs.
  3. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is to say that Brexit gives Britain the chance to increase its military standing around the world and ‘enhance our lethality’.
  4. Labour is to launch a fresh bid to stop Theresa May ‘running down the clock’ on Brexit by forcing her to hold a second meaningful vote on her deal before the end of February (and tabling an amendment to do so). However, the Labour leader faces up to ten resignations from the Labour frontbench if he fails to throw his party’s weight behind a fresh attempt to force Theresa May to submit her Brexit deal to a referendum in a fortnight’s time.
  5. Meanwhile the Prime Minister has responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s letter offering Labour support for a Brexit deal if she agrees a string of changes. Rory Stewart has said the Mrs May has rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit plan of a customs union but insisted her letter to the Labour leader showed there was ‘a lot of common ground’ between the parties.
  6. According to the Huffington Post, Yvette Cooper is to table another amendment to avoid a no deal Brexit and enable art 50 to be extended.
  7. Michel Barnier has said ‘something has to give’ on the British side of the negotiations if the Brexit impasse is to be broken. Despite this insistence, Theresa May hopes to convince the House of Commons to give her another fortnight’s grace to keep pushing for changes to the Irish backstop, promising to return to update MPs on 26th February.
  8. The Brexit Secretary has played down a report that Theresa May could force MPs to choose between backing her deal or accepting a delay to EU withdrawal following an ITV reporter overhearing negotiator Olly Robbins warn MPs the choice is May’s deal or extension.
  9. Former Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell has warned that Britain is ‘not ready to leave’ the EU and must seek an extension to the Article 50 process.
  10. Theresa May faced a fresh Commons defeat on her Brexit strategy: the Government lost the vote 303 to 258 including 41 Labour votes in defiance of their whip. PoliticsHome reports that this leads to it being more likely that there will be a no deal Brexit, and the Financial Times has reported that this defeat will cause more problems for Theresa May’s strategy.
  11. Mark Sedwill, cabinet secretary and chief civil servant to Theresa May, has stated that his role is being permanently merged with that of national security advisor to help ‘make a success of Brexit’.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The Department for Transport has cancelled the controversial Brexit ferry service contract it struck with Seabourne Freight, a new firm which has no ferries. However, Downing Street has said the prime minister has full confidence in Chris Grayling after Tory MPs called for him to be sacked over the collapse of the controversial ferry contract.
  2. According to analysis by Northern Ireland business groups, Theresa May’s Brexit deal would keep trade between Britain and Northern Ireland flowing smoothly, with ports having to check on average just nine trucks a day.
  3. Philip Hammond’s claim that Britain can reap an economic dividend from Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been flatly rejected by MPs, as official figures confirmed the UK has suffered its worst year for GDP growth since 2012.
  4. The UK has signed its biggest trade deal since the Brexit vote, with Switzerland.
  5. According to the Financial Times, the IFS has found that Britain would need to endure another two years of austerity to plug the hole that would emerge in the public finances as a result of a disruptive Brexit.
  6. The FT reports that senior industry figures have warned that the Treasury has gone ‘Awol’ in recent weeks, ignoring banks’ efforts to co-ordinate an emergency funding programme for small businesses in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  7. The largest investor in British ports, DP World, is reportedly ready to boost capacity quickly by 30% at its Essex terminal to ease congestion at other sites should the country crash out of the EU without a trade deal.
  8. Big manufacturers in Europe have urged Brussels to either make a clean break from Britain on March 29 or delay Brexit for 6 to 12 months, warning that a short delay would undermine their contingency plans. Meanwhile the world’s biggest banks are warning that there will be no going back from actions they are taking to cope with potential Brexit disruption, which is expected to cost them as much as $400m each.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

Richard Martin, the Scotland Yard officer leading the British police chiefs’ Brexit response, has warned that foreign criminals may be able to abscond from justice in the event of a no-deal Brexit because the UK will lose access to EU crime-fighting powers.

The Times has learnt that Alex Younger, head of MI6, is expected to stay in post beyond his retirement date this year to guide the secret intelligence service through the post-Brexit period.

Health

The Department of Health and Social Care has published guidance for a no deal scenario for businesses supplying medicines and medical devices.

The General Medical Council has published information for doctor in the run up to Brexit.

Immigration

The UK and EEA EFTA states have struck an agreement to protect citizens’ rights in a no deal scenario.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

Britain has received demands to roll back its human rights standards in exchange for progress on post-Brexit trade deals, including from some countries that ministers are pushing to secure agreements with.

Environment

The Government has been asked to pause as a matter of ‘great urgency’ consultations on all food, farming and environment issues because Brexit is choking the capacity of businesses to respond to Michael Gove’s plans.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched a new system to maintain environmental standards on harmful gases in No Deal Brexit scenario.

It has also discussed legislation aimed at preventing EU vessels from carrying out pulse fishing in UK waters post-Brexit.

Science and Technology

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published guidance on changes that may affect business, university, research institute and other research organisations if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.