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Brexit round-up – week commencing 20 Feb 2017

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Aidan O’Neill QC has examined the UK’s complex multinational constitutional history, and the potential impact on the devolved political constitution, considering the Supreme Court’s treatment of devolution issues in Miller to be troubling.
  2. On the UK Constitutional Law Association blog, Mikolaj Barczentewicz has considered the EU-withdrawal statute in light of the principle of legality. Davor Jancic has written an article for the blog discussing the role of parliaments – that of the UK, the EU and the 27 member states’ – in Brexit.
  3. Meg Russell has written a post on the UCL Constitution Unit considering how the House of Lords will treat the Article 50 bill, and arguing that this illustrates the dynamics between the two Houses. On the same blog, Nick Wright has considered whether the Government’s Brexit white paper was a missed opportunity.
  4. The House of Lords Constitution Committee has produced a report stating that while its usual concerns about the fast-tracking of legislation are alleviated by the brevity and simplicity of the withdrawal Bill, this should not be seen as setting a precedent for future constitutional bills.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. EU politicians have told The Guardian that ‘divide and rule’ tactics employed by Britain is likely to result in no deal being reached in Brexit negotiations, and Jean-Claude Juncker has warned that there will be two years of tough negotiation and a ‘very hefty’ bill. Sir Ivan Rogers has also stated that the EU will seek to avoid a future trade deal with special terms for different sectors of the economy as wanted by Theresa May.
  2. Prior to the House of Lords’ 2nd reading, in a letter to The Times (paywall) organised by Mark Stephens, a media law partner at London law firm Howard Kennedy, over 90 senior lawyers and business leaders have called for the Article 50 notification bill to be amended so that Parliament can “ensure that it can determine what should be done if negotiations break down”.
  3. As discussions of the Article 50 bill began in the Lords, the leader of the Labour Lords, Lady Smith, has stated that Labour will table amendments, but will not attempt to wreck the March timetable for invoking the article. Theresa May took the unusual step of sitting in on the Lords’ debate. The debate can be read in the House of Lords Hansard: day one and day two. Labour is reportedly increasingly optimistic it can force concessions from the Government over the status of EU nationals in post-Brexit Britain, after securing cross-party backing for an amendment to the Article 50 bill.
  4. During the debate, Lord Kerr, original author of Article 50 TEU, has ridiculed the Government’s claim that the treaty clause cannot be stopped after it has been triggered.
  5. The Financial Times has published an article arguing that pro-Europeans now have to push for change after exiting the EU.
  6. The EU’s Brexit negotiators intend to discuss the UK’s divorce from the bloc first, thus denying any trade-deal negotiations until after progress has been made on the €60bn exit bill and the rights of expatriate citizens.
  7. Charles Grant has published a policy brief to the Centre for European Reform discussing Theresa May’s emerging deal on Brexit and the incumbent difficulties.
  8. Some senior ministers reportedly want to divert aid from “wasteful” projects in Africa and Asia to allies in eastern Europe in a bid to get a better Brexit deal; however the Department for International Development has insisted this plan is illegal.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. Mark Weil, UK chief executive of insurance broker Marsh, has warned that the industry may struggle to complete its Brexit preparations before the UK leaves the EU, with some companies ‘timing out’ as they try to set up new operations elsewhere in the EU.
  2. Concerns are growing in the City that Brexit-related bank moves could unravel related professions and risk wider financial turmoil. A senior German central banker, Andreas Dombret of Bundesbank, has voiced doubts over the City of London gaining access to the EU’s single market after Brexit.
  3. The latest Guardian monthly analysis has found cracks showing in economic resilience since the vote to leave the EU due to the impact on the value of the pound pushing up inflation.
  4. According to the Financial Times, the UK wants to create a ‘virtual’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, as a template for a new customs deal with the EU after Brexit that makes trade as easy as possible.
  5. An article in The Spectator considers how Theresa May is attempting to steer a path between globalism and nationalism.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Health

The Health Committee has published a brief overview of the Brexit and health and social care oral evidence session with the Secretary of State for Health.

Giselle Cory, Carys Roberts and Craig Thorley of IPPR have considered the future of care in a post-Brexit climate.

The Financial Times reports that the UK will need new international agreements to keep its access to the medical isotopes used in radiotherapy for cancer patients when the country withdraws from the EU’s Euratom nuclear watchdog under Brexit.

Immigration

Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are taking action to highlight their contribution to the UK economy, alongside a thousand EU citizens demanding the right to remain in Britain after Brexit.

The New Economics Foundation has calculated that, without migrant workers, the UK economy would grind to a halt, costing £328m if they downed tools for the day.

The Financial Times has produced a run-down of the potential obstacles to the UK and the EU-27 securing a deal on the future of expatriates.

David Davis has stated that immigration restrictions following Brexit will be phased in, as it is implausible that British citizens would immediately take low-skilled jobs.

The immigration minister has stated that British tourists could face charges to visit Europe under a new waiver system.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

CM Murray LLP have discussed the idea that whether support to remain in or leave the EU could amount to a belief for the purpose of discrimination laws, considering the potential impact of this on the workplace and the potential risks for employers and employees.

A letter to The Observer signed by over 50 leading lawyers and academics has claimed that the UK’s departure of the EU may result in the removal of fundamental rights from UK law.

Environment

With the Government’s white paper confirming that environmental protection is not a political priority, the environmental sector is considering how policy outside the EU will develop.