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Brexit round-up – week commencing 27 Mar 2017

Matrix’s Legal Support Service provides a weekly round-up of Brexit-related links and news – in the week that Article 50 notice was given, and the Great Repeal Bill was published.

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Theresa May’s letter giving Article 50 notice can be read here. On 30 March, the Department for Exiting the European Union published the Government’s ‘Great Repeal Bill’ white paper. You can also see the Statement on legislating for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU here, as well as a House of Common’s Briefing paper. Dods have produced a guide Legislating for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
  2. The President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court have given their annual evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee, including taking questions on the impact of Brexit.
  3. The Lords’ EU Select Committee has published a report on the situation of the Crown Dependencies and the impact of Brexit, whilst the Commons’ Justice Select Committee has published a report considering the Crown Dependencies’ priorities and the Government’s procedures for engaging with and representing them.
  4. Rhodri Thompson QC has published And so this is Brexit: ending British influence and destroying British rights and The UK Constitutional Law Blog has published an article discussing the constitutional ‘ripple effect’ of the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.
  5. Gordon Brown has argued in the Financial Times that Brexit is an opportunity to create a more decentralised, or even federal, United Kingdom.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Prior to giving Article 50 notice, Theresa May met with Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, to discuss the “unstoppable force” of the four nations of the UK, stating that Brexit will strengthen the Union of the UK.
  2. Theresa May was warned by some Tory MPs that she would face a ‘legislative swamp’ after she triggers Article 50. Equally, officials have stated that there is no time to replace key EU agencies before departure and so the UK will keep some EU regulations post-Brexit.
  3. Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, will resist Tory hardliners’ effort to exploit the ‘once in a generation chance’ to extract UK from the EU social and economic model and will call for united opposition if the Brexit deal fails tough tests. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn has stated that Labour will oppose plans in the Great Repeal Bill to give ministers sweeping powers to rewrite laws with minimal interference from Parliament.
  4. Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 notice was covered widely: PoliticsHome, BBC News, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Financial Times. Brexit secretary, David Davis, stated that the art 50 letter was not a threat to the EU on security issues, whilst senior EU figures complained about the Prime Minister’s remarks. The Guardian has considered the reactions seen in European newspapers. Allister Heath of The Telegraph has produced a video advocating that the Prime Minister should exploit the current turmoil in the EU to get the best deal for Britain in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
  5. The Great Repeal Bill: White Paper has now been published. According to The Guardian, European diplomats based in the UK have stated that the British Government is stepping back from its threat to leave the EU without a trade deal if negotiations break down, whilst Angela Merkel has stated that negotiations on Britain’s exit from the EU cannot run in parallel with talks on the future UK-EU relationship.
  6. Meanwhile prominent ex-ministers are uniting against the ‘no deal’ threat, whilst pro-Brexit Conservative MPs walked out of a meeting of Parliament’s committee on leaving the EU after objecting to what they felt to be the negative tone of a report prepared by its Labour chairman, Hilary Benn.
  7. Former Foreign Office chief Sir Simon Fraser has stated that the process to take Britain out of the EU is likely to go beyond the 2019 deadline.
  8. Brussels is reportedly considering publishing its main negotiating positions in Brexit talks, adopting a policy of full transparency that the Financial Times suggests may wrong-foot the more secretive British side. The FT puts forward the view that keeping talks transparent makes sense, and the culture of secrecy around trade negotiations is outdated. Meanwhile, the Commission’s Chief negotiator Michel Barnier has split the negotiating window into three topics: disentangling past ties and commitments, setting goals for future relations, and arranging transition terms to avoid unnecessary disruption.
  9. Civitas has published a paper entitled It’s quite ok to walk away, reviewing the UK’s Brexit options.
  10. The Bar Council has published the second edition of its Brexit Papers, in which it calls for agreement on financial services post-Brexit.
  11. Addressing tens of thousands of people protesting against decision to leave EU, Nick Clegg has stated that there is a “perpetual sense of anger” over Brexit.
  12. Lord Heseltine has been heavily criticised for comments stating that leaving the EU has given Germany the opportunity to ‘win the peace’ in Europe, and criticising Theresa May as being ‘for turning’.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The Guardian has reported on the statement by the EEF that failing to secure a Brexit trading deal with the EU would be disastrous for Britain’s manufacturers.
  2. The Chairmen of the EU Internal Market and EU External Affairs Sub-committees have published a joint letter on the Government response to the Brexit – the options for trade report.
  3. A report by the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Brexit Infrastructure Group has published a three-point plan on infrastructure investment, skills and industrial strategy.
  4. A PwC/CBI survey has revealed a mixed picture for UK financial services. Meanwhile, Demos has published a paper considering the opportunities and risks to a fairer, more sustainable economy in making the most of Brexit.
  5. The Financial Times has detailed how investors should act and react throughout the Brexit process. It has also argued that, as it will take a lot to threaten London’s position as Europe’s financial capital, ‘muddling through’ is a sound approach to Brexit uncertainty. As Brexit was triggered the pound was above pivotal market levels.
  6. City analysts have calculated that the price of imported fruit and vegetables “will rise by up to 8% after Brexit”.
  7. Overseas companies that invest in the UK, particularly from Europe and Japan, have issued warnings about the threat Brexit poses to their businesses, signalling growing concern.
  8. A piece in The Conversation considers the history of the UK and Europe, stating that the clearest lesson of all is that the European mainland has been essential to Britain’s prosperity, and that when the relationship with Europe is poor, the lot of the ordinary Briton is poorer for it.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Middle Temple has compiled a list of online resources regarding the legal implications of the UK referendum and Brexit.

Data Protection

In the technology law update from Mills & Reeve there is discussion of the implications of Brexit for patents, trade-marks and data protection.

Health

A drugs trial lawyer has criticised Michael Gove over claims that European regulations such as the Clinical Trials Directive which safeguards those taking  part in trials could be scrapped following Brexit.

Immigration

The European Parliament will veto any Brexit deal that prevents EU citizens who move to the UK during the next two years from having the same rights to live and work in Britain as those already in the country. Thus there is to be no cut-off date.

David Davis has confirmed that there will be no post-Brexit cap on working EU migrants, stating that policy should be managed according to the needs of the UK economy.

Environment

The recycling industry sees an opportunity to re-think the UK’s approach after Brexit.

A group of leading environmental organisations have written to the Prime Minister stating that it is critical that strengthened environmental protection is a priority post-Brexit.

Events

  1. Public Policy Exchange is hosting an event entitled ‘Taking action against hate crime in post-Brexit Britain: Protecting vulnerable groups and promoting a culture of tolerance and inclusivity’ on 27 June 2017 in central London.
  2. Rhodri Thompson QC spoke at a seminar in Stockholm on 22 March 2017, organised by the Swedish law firm, Vinge. Rhodri spoke to the topic: Beyond ‘control’ – options for dispute resolution after the British withdrawal. His talk was part of Vinge’s seminar series on ‘Britain and Europe – a constructive way forward’.
  3. Middle Temple has compiled a list of upcoming Brexit-related legal events.