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Brexit round up – Week commencing 4 February 2019

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Lord Trimble is to take the UK Government to court amid claims that the Irish backstop contravenes the Good Friday Agreement.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Hard Brexiters have warned Theresa May that the only proposal they are likely to support to break the Brexit impasse is a version of the “Malthouse compromise”, which envisages removing the backstop from the draft EU exit treaty.
  2. Labour MPs frustrated at the leadership’s ‘constructive ambiguity’ over Brexit are expected to air their concerns, amid renewed talk that some could quit to form a new centre party.
  3. The Department for Transport has issued guidance on what all drivers from the UK may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.
  4. Theresa May has insisted she will deliver Brexit “on time” despite senior figures in the Cabinet admitting it could be delayed. She is also to pledge to deliver a Brexit that MPs and Northern Ireland can support.
  5. Donald Tusk has warned of a ‘special place in hell’ for politicians who promoted Brexit ‘without even a sketch of a plan’, just 24 hours before his crunch meeting with Theresa May in Brussels.
  6. In a boost to Theresa May, Arlene Foster has indicated that she is willing to be flexible in dealing with the issue of the Irish backstop. However, Theresa May then suggested she will stick to keeping the backstop in the deal.
  7. Chris Grayling has argued that Brussels will be to blame if there is a no deal Brexit.
  8. For the Institute for Government, Joe Owen has considered the four potential Brexit scenarios.
  9. Donald Tusk caused outrage in Westminster when he stated that there is a ‘special place in hell’ for officials who backed Brexit without a plan to manage it. His team stated that he was just expressing frustration. Despite the clash this caused, the EU has agreed that talks will continue.
  10. Jeremy Corbyn has offered Theresa May terms under which Labour would back the Brexit deal; the full text of his letter can be read here. However, a leaked report has found that not opposing Brexit could cost Labour 45 seats.
  11. Theresa May is preparing to delay the second Commons vote on her Brexit deal until the end of the month as she races to secure changes from the EU. However, as the Government runs out of time before the 29 March departure date, ministers are set to delay passing up to five Brexit-related laws until after the UK has left the bloc.
  12. The Guardian has reported that any last minute offer from Brussels on the Irish backstop is not expected to be put to MPs until late March, days before the UK is due to leave the EU.
  13. Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, has urged the Government to rule out a no-deal Brexit, saying ministers had the power to do so, to end the uncertainty that is gripping business and local government services.
  14. In talks in Brussels, Donald Tusk told Theresa May that a fresh plan put forward by Jeremy Corbyn could break the Brexit impasse. The Prime Minister’s Office released a joint statement on the talks on behalf of Theresa May and President Juncker.
  15. Nicky Morgan has argued that the Malthouse Compromise is the way through the Brexit impasse.
  16. The Government has started to recruit civilians to work in an emergency command and control centre being set up to make sure Britain runs smoothly in the aftermath of a potential no-deal Brexit.
  17. Up to 4,000 civil servants are being asked to abandon their day jobs to work on no-deal Brexit preparations under plans being rolled out across Whitehall. Meanwhile Andrew Adonis has highlighted that almost all non-Brexit business in the houses of Parliament has ceased.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The Treasury has issued general guidance on financial sanctions for post EU exit. Meanwhile, the Department for International Trade has published a new open general export licence for the export of dual-use items to EU member states and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has published guidance on what importers of relevant nuclear material will need to do if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal.
  2. A confidential letter released after Nissan abandoned plans to produce a new model in Sunderland has shown that business secretary Greg Clark promised the carmaker in 2016 that it would not be ‘adversely affected’ by Brexit. Meanwhile in an interview with The Times, Greg Clark has warned that ‘No-deal Brexit would be a disaster, something that we’d regret for ever’.
  3. Leading banks have appealed for help from regulators after as few as 10% of clients returned paperwork allowing them to trade smoothly in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  4. According to Tom Newton Dunn for The Sun, DexEU officials have been studying a hi-tech blueprint drawn up by Japanese firm Fujitsu to keep the Irish border open for 10 months.
  5. British steel companies have been warned that they will face trade restrictions in virtually all their export markets in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However ministers have revealed that hauliers will be able to bring goods into the UK without facing checks at the border in a bid to avoid traffic jams if there is a no-deal Brexit.
  6. Liam Fox is considering a plan to remove tariffs on most imports if there is a no-deal Brexit, in a move that would keep prices low for consumers at the expense of British industries. The Financial Times has considered whether the use of technology, mutual recognition and trusted trader schemes could ensure a smooth border if no EU/UK trade deal is in place.
  7. The Financial Times reports that Union leaders are ‘at war’ over Brexit, with some open to overtures from Downing Street, and others insisting they should hold out for a second referendum.
  8. The UK Government has told businesses it cannot guarantee the British economy will be covered by ‘most’ of the EU’s global network of trade agreements immediately after Brexit, even if Parliament approves May’s divorce deal with Brussels. This is highlighted in the Lords’ EU Committee scrutiny of international agreements report.
  9. Due to Brexit uncertainty, homeowners are looking to remortage their homes.
  10. The Government has awarded an £800,000 contract to Slaughter & May for advice in case Eurotunnel takes legal action over the impact of Brexit.
  11. An official warning has been issued to the Institute of Economic Affairs after the Charity Commission found that IEA trustees breached charity law by publishing a report seeking to change post-Brexit Government policy.
  12. In Project After, overseen by Sir Mark Sedwill, secret plans are being drawn up to slash taxes and cut tariffs if the UK leaves the EU without a deal to boost the economy.
  13. US lawmakers have warned that the UK must ensure a ‘soft’ Irish border if London wants to secure a trade deal with Washington further clouding Theresa May’s hope of boosting British trade after Brexit.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

The UK competition watchdog, the CMA, is bracing itself for a jump in workload post-Brexit, as it will have to make its own assessments in cases which were formerly under the EU’s remit.

Health

The House of Lords Library has published a briefing in advance of the second reading of the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill, which is to set out healthcare arrangements post-Brexit.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has published work aimed at ensuring that patients and public health are central to Brexit negotiations, and that UK Life Sciences is in as strong a position as possible as the UK establishes a new relationship with Europe.​

The European Commission has published a paper of questions and answers relating to Brexit with regard to the medicinal products for human and veterinary use within the framework of the Centralised procedure.

Immigration

The Government has been warned that hundreds of single parents and carers could be swept up in the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy unless they are given fresh guarantees on their post-Brexit rights.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer has stated that Britain should not get ‘stuck on’ ending the free movement of EU workers after Brexit.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

Simulations run by the German Development Institute have found that Brexit could put 1.7 million people around globe into extreme poverty, with Cambodia most affected.

Education

Norway’s Government is advising its citizens against studying in the UK because of Brexit, in a warning that will fuel concerns from universities about falling enrolment from Europe.

Environment

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued guidance on exporting and importing fish if there’s no Brexit deal.

The Department has also issued guidance on changes that may be necessary to areas including energy renewables, the nuclear industry and regulated carbon emissions when the UK leaves the EU.

Family

The Ministry of Justice has issued guidance on family law disputes involving the EU post-Brexit.