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Brexit round up – Week commencing 18 February 2019

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Dubbed the ‘Armstrong Protocol’, Professor Kenneth Armstrong has published a discussion paper, outlining a proposal for a legal bridge between a revised Political Declaration and the Withdrawal Agreement to unblock the Brexit process.
  2. The Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, has delivered a speech on devolution after Brexit.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Labour splits on Brexit were again laid bare with Sir Keir Starmer appearing to suggest that pushing for a general election was no longer a ‘credible option’ for the party to pursue. However other frontbenchers threatened to quit the party if Jeremy Corbyn failed to back a second Brexit referendum push. Meanwhile Tory eurosceptics set to rebel in a key Commons vote over fears of Government preparation to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
  2. Dozens of former UK ambassadors and high commissioners have called on Theresa May to delay Brexit and consider the ‘powerful argument’ for a second EU referendum.
  3. Geoffrey Cox is to hold talks in Brussels on Monday and give a speech in London on Thursday outlining how he thinks Britain can eliminate the risk of being trapped in a customs union with the EU.
  4. The European Council has published its decision on the signing, on behalf of the EU and of the European Atomic Energy Community, of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the bloc.
  5. Theresa May has been urged by four of her own Cabinet ministers to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit by the end of the month or face a wave or resignations from the Government. Meanwhile, in a blow to the prime minister’s Brexit strategy, three pro-EU Tories have defected to The Independent Group, joining eight former Labour MPs. Meanwhile members of the Brexit Delivery Group, which is made up of Tory Leavers and Remainers, have told Number 10 they will back an attempt to extend art 50 if the Prime Minister fails to pass a new deal in the Commons next week and Jeremy Corbyn has been warned that a further raft of Labour MPs are ready to quit the party unless he backs calls for a second EU referendum.
  6. Theresa May is to put new proposals to the EU regarding the Northern Ireland backstop, ditching the Malthouse compromise. The FT reports that she sought to restart the stalled talks with a three-track negotiation.
  7. EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted he has little hope that the UK and EU will avoid a no-deal Brexit.
  8. The Financial Times reports that, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on March 29th, negotiators’ clocks will reset to the cliff-edge date of April 18th at which point the UK must confirm whether to make about €7bn of net contributions for the EU’s 2019 budget.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. Theresa May was handed a boost by Donald Trump as he promised to ‘very, very substantially’ increase trade with the UK after Brexit.
  2. The EU’s agriculture commissioner has warned that the UK will struggle to conclude the same high quality free trade deals as the bloc due to its small size and continuing Brexit uncertainty.
  3. Australia’s trade minister has stated that Australia is ready to sign a fast-tracked trade agreement with the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but rejected Britain’s ambition to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional bloc.
  4. UK regional airline flybmi has gone into administration, blaming factors including ‘insurmountable’ challenges caused by Brexit.
  5. Dame Judith Hackitt – chair of manufacturing umbrella body EEF – has hit out at MPs over the prospect of Britain leaving without an agreement, stating that the UK faces the ‘catastrophic prospect’ because of the ‘selfishness’ of some politicians.
  6. In a bid to calm fears about food standards and import and export tariffs, Michael Gove has sought to reassure farmers that the Government will protect them as Brexit looms, even if no deal is reached. However, though Gove has stated that the UK will impose agricultural tariffs, this has led to friction with Philip Hammond as the ministers are fighting over whether farmers or consumers should shoulder the brunt of the costs.
  7. In an article for the UKTPO, Ilona Serwicka and Nicolo Tamberi have considered foreign direct investment in the UK, the impact of Brexit, and whether there are regional patterns.
  8. Ireland is accelerating preparations for a no-deal Brexit amid growing alarm that parts of the Irish economy could face severe disruption and even collapse – and that the UK hopes to leverage that prospect to wring concessions from the EU.
  9. The Government has confirmed that it sees no chance of rolling over trade deals with Japan or Turkey by exit day on March 29 if a no-deal Brexit pulls the UK out of EU trade arrangements.
  10. According to Department for Transport analysis seen by the Financial Times, queues for Eurostar train services at London’s St Pancras International could reach up to 15000 passengers a day under a no-deal Brexit.
  11. Brexit funding has been announced for local authorities with major ports.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

Berlin has warned that it will stop the extradition of Germans to the UK after Brexit.

Employment

For The UK in a Changing Europe Madeleine Sumption has discussed where UK labour migration policy is heading after Brexit.

Immigration

British tourists travelling to continental Europe may need to pay £52 for a visa in a few weeks after Spanish demands over the status of Gibraltar again derailed Brussels’ preparations for Brexit.

Health

The European Medicines Agency has lost a legal battle in which it claimed that it ought to be able to get out of a £500 million rent bill for its London headquarters because of Brexit.