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Brexit round up – Week commencing 21 January 2019

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. David Pannick QC has written in The Times, discussing Brexit and art 50, and arguing that the Government should be asking the EU for more time.
  2. For the Constitution Unit, Alan Renwick has discussed whether a citizens’ assembly could help the Brexit process, with Gordon Brown and The Guardian both arguing that such an assembly is needed.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Theresa May is expected to reject calls to forge a cross-party consensus on Brexit when she lays out her plan B to Parliament on Monday, choosing instead to back new diplomatic efforts in Brussels to renegotiate the Irish backstop. Her spokesman has stated that Parliament is unlikely to have a second binding vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal until February, playing down the significance of the motion due to be voted on on 29th
  2. Dominic Grieve has laid out his plan to take control of parliamentary business on Brexit for a day, but has insisted this plan does not amount to a ‘coup d’état’ though Downing Street is ‘extremely concerned’ over it.
  3. Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour must not rule out backing a second referendum if it fails to force a general election. Meanwhile, Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, is to call on his party not to fail Britain at a ‘great moment of change’ and urge the party to ‘engage intelligently’ with Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn, who has been under pressure from scores of his own MPs to swing behind a so-called “People’s Vote”, has tabled an amendment to the Government’s Brexit plans urging a series of votes on plans to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
  4. Stating that May’s deal ‘would be better than not leaving at all’, Jacob Rees-Mogg has dropped a major hint that his group of hardcore pro-Brexit Tory MPs are willing to strike a deal with the prime minister on Brexit.
  5. Theresa May is reportedly on a collision course with Parliament after she refused to compromise to secure a Brexit deal in the eve of the deadline set by MPs about next steps. However, according to the Daily Telegraph, the prime minister is considering amending the Good Friday Agreement as part of a fresh attempt to unblock the Brexit logjam.
  6. The Prime Minister has claimed that failing to implement the result of the original vote in 2016 could ‘undermine faith in our democracy’ among voters, warning that a second EU referendum could ‘damage social cohesion’ in the UK.
  7. Amber Rudd has told Theresa May that up to 40 ministers could walk out of the Government within days unless Conservative MPs are allowed to vote on a plan that could block a no-deal Brexit. However, Theresa May has been warned of a mutiny by the Tory grass roots if she rules out a no deal. Meanwhile, Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles have tabled an amendment to Theresa May’s parliamentary motion about Brexit plan B seeking to prevent the UK leaving the bloc without an agreement if the prime minister’s revised deal is rejected by MPs.
  8. Michel Barnier has rebuffed the idea of renegotiating the Irish backstop, and although the Polish foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, suggested a five year time limit on the backstop, this was rejected by both Germany and Ireland. Meanwhile, the EU has confirmed it will enforce a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, despite the risk it would pose to peace. Austrian Chancellor Sebastien Kurz has encouraged the UK to extend art 50 rather than risk crashing out of the EU without a deal.
  9. Five Cabinet members – including Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Chancellor Philip Hammond are among the 18 ministers who have reportedly been secretly plotting in Parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
  10. In a speech the Queen has urged people to find “common ground” and to respect “different points of view”, in remakes which commentators have suggested refer to the Brexit debate.
  11. Brussels is struggling to prevent EU member states from adopting contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit that it sees as too generous to UK sectors such as road haulage and aviation.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. Three-quarters of UK warehouse owners say their space is full to capacity and storage costs have soared by up to 25% in the past three months after a surge in Brexit-related inquiries.
  2. The Financial Times has discussed how the Brexit options would affect the economy.
  3. Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the International Air Transport Association, has warned the EU that its proposed regulation to ensure aeroplanes keep flying after a no-deal Brexit represents ‘a huge step backwards for all European consumers’.
  4. A leaked report from UK Border Force has warned that at least three-quarters of trade between Dover and Calais could grind to a halt for up to six months should the UK leave the EU without a Brexit agreement in place.
  5. The House of Lords has inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Government as it stalled progress on ministers’ post-Brexit trade plans, voting to shelve the Trade Bill amid concerns ministers have refused to provide enough detail over its proposed future arrangements.
  6. The Cabinet Office has issued information for public authorities, businesses and other organisations on the outcome for public procurement policy in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
  7. Sony is to re-domicile the European headquarters of its consumer electronics business from the UK to the Netherlands due to the risk of Brexit upheaval. Meanwhile Airbus has warned that it would be forced to make ‘potentially very harmful decisions’ for its UK operations if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal. The company’s branding of the Government’s handling of Brexit as a “disgrace” has been praised by business minister Richard Harrington, who has dared the prime minister to sack him.
  8. Eight in ten leaders of UK ports say they have made little or no preparation for the UK’s exit from the EU, with most feeling poorly placed to cope.
  9. Brussels has recognised that EU member states may need to negotiate country-by-country fishing deals to access UK waters after a no-deal Brexit.
  10. According to the chair of the Commons Treasury select committee, the UK should be able to strike financial services ‘passporting’ deals beyond Europe, allowing the City of London to offset lost access to the EU single market post-Brexit.
  11. The BBC is considering Brussels as the location for a new EU base after Brexit to allow it to continue to broadcast across the continent.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

Britain’s counter-terrorism chief has said he fears the far right will exploit Brexit tensions with their propaganda triggering rises in hate crime and creating an atmosphere that terrorists can exploit.

The Londonderry attacks have sparked anxiety about dissident republican paramilitaries in Northern Ireland seeking to exploit the uncertainty over Brexit to destabilise the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

Competition and Regulatory

Brussels is to sue the UK in the CJEU over tax breaks for commodities traders, escalating a battle that Britain said risked damaging the post-Brexit competitiveness of the City of London.

Blackstone’s Competition Bulletin has considered the issue of jurisdiction following a no deal Brexit.

Employment

Britain’s modern slavery watchdog has warned that workers face a growing risk of exploitation as labour shortages combine with predicted Brexit restrictions to create conditions for abuse.

In Mills & Reeve’s technology update, they have discussed the four key messages about EU staff in the technology sector and Brexit.

Health

Senior doctors’ group, the Royal College of Physicians, has urged the Government to be “transparent” about the availability of key drugs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has published updated guidance on how to make regulatory medicines submissions to the MHRA if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Immigration

Migration experts have warned that the post-Brexit system for registering EU citizens living in the UK could become a new “Windrush scandal” as the scheme to register an estimated 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK begins.

The Government is to waive the planned fee for EU nationals living in the UK to apply for settled status after Brexit.

Madrid and London have signed a deal to guarantee that Spanish and British citizens living in each other’s country retain voting rights after Brexit.

Malta is to offer UK citizens full residency rights lasting ten years even if Britain crashes out of the EU without an exit deal.

Philip Hammond has called for a more liberal immigration regime post-Brexit, asking business to make a case for special treatment for EU citizens.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

Peers have criticised lord chancellor David Gauke for having “failed to give assurances” that UK human rights legislation will not be repealed or replaced after the country leaves the EU.