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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 14 May 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. The Scottish Parliament is set to reject legislative consent for the EU (Withdrawal) Bill amid the devolution row, with MSPs fearing that devolved powers which are currently within EU-wide frameworks of rules and regulations will be handed to Whitehall not Holyrood post-Brexit. The Government statement in response was descibed by PoliticsHome as “Government triggers constitutional crisis with vow to over-rule Holyrood over Brexit bill”.
  2. Theresa May is expected to approve the creation of about ten Tory peers and hand at least one to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party in an attempt to improve her weak position in the House of Lords, which has already voted 15 times against her Government over Brexit.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. In an article in The Times, Theresa May has implored her Cabinet ministers and the public to trust her on Brexit amid reports that at least a dozen of them are lining up to block her chosen customs plan. However her former deputy, Damien Green, has predicted that her preferred option for customs links with the EU after Brexit will not happen and the factions of the Cabinet are criticising her plans.
  2. Simon Coveneyhas insisted that the Irish Government will be “inflexible” on any border infrastructure but stated that Ireland was open to any “new thinking” from British prime minster Theresa May on customs arrangements after Brexit. Meanwhile Theresa May clashed with Jacob Rees-Mogg in sending “a tough signal” to hardline Brexiteers that any future customs arrangements must not compromise Britain’s relationship with Northern Ireland.
  3. Theresa May is to publish fresh proposals for avoiding a hard border in Ireland in a last-ditch attempt to break the Brexit deadlock. Sam Lowe has written an article for the Centre for European Reform arguing that the UK needs to accept a ‘backstop’, which grants a special status to Northern Ireland.
  4. Ministers have reportedly agreed to tell the EU that the UK is willing to stay in the customs union after 2021, leading Jacob Rees-Mogg to warn of ‘perpetual Brexit purgatory’. A Norway-style soft Brexit has been declared ‘dead’ after Jeremy Corbyn ruled out support for it from Labour.
  5. The Council of the European Union’s General Affairs Council (Article 50) has released the minutes from its latest meeting in which it was was briefed by Michel Barnier about the ongoing Brexit negotiations and on the latest developments regarding internal UK discussions.
  6. Labour was reportedly to stage a “Commons ambush” in a bid to force the Government to publish secret papers on its plans for a customs deal with Brussels after Brexit. However this was voted down by MPs. Meanwhile the Government has stated that it will set out the Brexit customs plan in a White Paper published next month.
  7. The House of Lords EU Committee has published a paper considering Brexit and the Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. According to Charles Hammond, the new chairman of the UK’s Major Ports Group, the UK’s container ports are ready to cope with Britain’s exit from the EU whatever trading arrangements are put in place.
  2. Mary-Ann Stephenson, for The UK in a Changing Europe, has written an article discussing the economic impact of Brexit on women.
  3. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, David Miliband has urged the UK to seek a “safe harbour” after Brexit by staying in the EEA.
  4. The IMF has warned that Brexit and Italian politics are putting European growth at risk.
  5. The International Trade Committee has published the Government’s response to its report on the continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

The National Crime Agency has warned that Brexit could lead to a rise in organised crime.

Competition and Regulatory

Belgian and French regulators are allowing English lawyers to requalify even if they are not fluent in the local languages, in a bid to lure commercial legal work away from London after Brexit.

Michael Grenfell, CMA Executive Director, has given a keynote speech on the view from the CMA concerning Brexit and beyond.

The Department for Transport has confirmed in a letter to the ABI that UK drivers and hauliers should not have to apply or pay for ‘Green Card’ documentation from insurers when they travel in an EU member state after Brexit.

Health

In a report on the impact of Brexit on the pharmaceutical sector, BEIS has warned that the Government must secure a deal that ensures ‘the closest possible regulatory alignment with the EU’ or risk seeing the pharmaceutical sector lose its status as a world leader post-Brexit.

Immigration

According to a UN inspector the austerity programme, changes to immigration and Brexit have all “disproportionately” affected Britain’s ethnic minorities.

Environment

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, to seek the Government’s view on the EU Commission’s advice to energy stakeholders on preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario.

A leaked Government document has shown that the UK is already missing critical deadlines to put full safeguards in place to keep the flow of components and raw material needed to fabricate nuclear fuel after Brexit.

Peers have defeated the Government for the fifteenth time, voting 294-244 in favour of an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill designed to enshrine European environmental protections in UK law.

For the LSE Brexit blog, Steven McCulloch has argued that, through re-shaping animal welfare policy in light of Brexit, the Government has a historic opportunity to preserve the UK’s position as a global leader in this area.