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Brexit round-up – week commencing 16 Jan 2017

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. In her keynote speech, Theresa May confirmed that MPs and peers are to get a vote on the final Brexit deal. She also confirmed that Britain will leave the single market, and backed a “phased process of implementation”. The Independent has summarised twelve key points.
  2. The first report by the Exiting the European Union Committee has stated that the Government must publish its EU withdrawal plan by mid-February and give MPs a vote on the final deal. David Davis, in a series of interviews, has stated that MPs will vote in favour of any Brexit deal coming from negotiations as the electorate already voted for Brexit in the referendum.
  3. Nicola Sturgeon now considers a second Scottish independence referendum more likely in light of Theresa May’s announcement that Brexit will take the UK out of the single market. The SNP confirm that there are no circumstances in which SNP MPs would vote to trigger art 50.
  4. The British peer who helped draft Lisbon Treaty, art 50, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, has warned ministers that there will be a “very nasty” set of talks over how much money the UK has to pay to leave the EU.
  5. The Supreme Court is to hand down its decision over the triggering of art 50 on 24 Jan 2017. Matrix’s Raj Desai covers Miller and the Flexibility of the UK Constitution on the UK Constitutional Law Blog. He argues that the Government has placed considerable reliance on the flexibility of the UK constitution in its appeal, urging that this flexibility be employed to take full account of the factual and political context of the Brexit referendum in determining the legal questions before the court. Desai suggests that this plea for flexibility in construing the European Communities Act 1972 is unsupported by authority. In the run up to the Miller ruling, Simon Renton consideres the UK’s accession to the EEC and other Communities in 1971-73, focusing particularly on areas where assertions made by the Government’s legal team about this need to be treated with caution.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. As briefed, prior to her speech, Theresa May stated that the Government is prepared to abandon the Single Market, Customs Union and the Court of Justice of the EU in order to achieve a “clean break” with the EU. EU negotiator Michael Barnier has reiterated his bargaining strategy of “divorce first, trade talks after”.
  2. In an interview with a German newspaper Philip Hammond has suggested Britain could transform its economic model into that of a corporate tax haven if the EU fails to provide it with an agreement on market access after Brexit. However, the Dutch have stated they will block any EU trade deal with the UK unless it signs up to tough tax avoidance regulations.
  3. The Maltese Prime Minister has stated that the CJEU is likely to maintain the power to make judgments impacting on the UK throughout any Brexit transitional deal.
  4. In a submission to the Department for Exiting the EU, the Law Society has stated that rights of audience before the Court of Justice of the European Union are among the priorities for continued access to EU legal practice following Brexit.
  5. Nick Clegg has published a paper setting out alternatives to a hard Brexit; the EEA and EFTA.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The pound hit its lowest level for more than three months following reports that Theresa May’s Brexit speech setting out plans to quit the Single Market. According to unpublished minutes seen by The Guardian, Michel Barnier wants a “special” relationship with the City of London after Brexit, showing his unease about costs on continental Europe.
  2. Donald Trump, in his first UK interview, has promised a quick trade deal between the UK and US, stating that Britain was “so smart” in voting to leave the EU. Downing Street welcomed this pledge, though stressed that only limited discussions can take place before the EU departure is finalised. Anthony Scaramucci, a financial advisor to Donald Trump, has stated that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could be feasible within a year, finalising talks quickly with the new administration (at his inauguration, the new President pledged to “put America first“).
  3. The House of Lords Library has published a paper on the impact of Brexit on the creative industries, as these account for a significant part of the UK economy.
  4. Several banks including UBS and HSBC have now indicated that they will move jobs out of Britain following Brexit.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

The Brexit Competition Law Working Group has published notes of its first Roundtable (held on 23 Nov 2016), focused on the antitrust issues relating to Brexit, and its second Roundtable (held on 5 Dec 2016), focused on merger issues relating to Brexit.

Immigration

Andrew Tingley, of Kingsley Napley solicitors, has stated that, whilst it is unlikely the UK would deport EU citizens irrespective of the agreement reached in Brexit talks over the status of UK citizens living in the EU, the Government could subject EU citizens to the Immigration Act 1971, making it as difficult as possible for people to stay.

Hugh Southey QC appears on Swedish TV discussing EU citizens’ rights following Brexit (he appears at 0:36 and again at 1:52).

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has stated that it is “hugely concerned”, warning that triggering art 50 could result in a surge in hate crime.

Events

  1. A Hard Brexit is Gonna Fall is an event by Ian Dunt and Jolyon Maugham considering EU exit and whether experts still matter on 30 Jan 2017 from 19:00 to 20:30.