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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 15 October 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. According to Nick Kent, on In Facts, it was the intervention of the Scottish Tories that was key to Theresa May backing off from the proposed deal as their independence fears are making the Prime Minister’s Brexit trickier. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given a speech on the topic at the Royal Society of Arts.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Dominic Raab flew to Brussels over the weekend for a hastily arranged meeting with Michel Barnier as talks over the Brexit deal reached a climax ahead of Wednesday’s European Council summit. However, despite Theresa May reportedly attempting to straddle her red lines to conclude a draft agreement, the talks seem to have reached a stand-off as the Prime Minister has warned that the draft deal is a non-starter and has pulled the plug on the agreement does to fears she would not get it past her Cabinet.
  2. The knife edge on which the Brexit negotiations are balanced is due to Theresa May’s domestic vulnerability over the Irish border which is now threatening to kill off hopes of an October deal. The Financial Times reports that the Prime Minister is playing for time amid rising expectations that finalising an exit deal will slip into December.
  3. Brussels gave the UK a day to settle its position on Brexit before deciding how to respond to Theresa May’s move to ‘disengage’ from the talks on the agreement. During this break, Theresa May won the backing of the Cabinet for her Brexit negotiating strategy after a two-and-half-hour discussion that centred on concerns about when the UK could leave any customs backstop it signed up to as part of the EU divorce deal. Meanwhile Brussels demanded that the UK provide new solutions for the deadlocked talks.
  4. Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster leader, has stated that his party is not bluffing in its threat to break the confidence and supply deal keeping Theresa May in power over Brexit.
  5. The Brexit transition period could be extended by another year in a bid to break the Irish border deadlock – potentially costing the UK billions of pounds in extra payments. Michel Barnier has indicated that he would be open to extending this 2021 in return for a two-tier backstop to avoid a hard Irish border.
  6. Scottish Secretary David Mundell has broken ranks with the Cabinet to warn Theresa May against extending the Brexit transition period if it means forcing the UK to abide by EU fishing rules for The DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has also rejected calls for the post-Brexit transition period to be extended, claiming it would cost the UK billions and not break the Irish border deadlock.
  7. Donald Tusk has warned that a no-deal Brexit is ‘closer than ever’. Meanwhile some of the ‘Letters to the Times’ discuss the Brexit impasse. By contrast, Nicola Sturgeon has called for an extension of the proposed 21-month Brexit transition period to give the UK Government more time to negotiate a compromise with opposition parties, in order to deliver a “common-sense” future relationship with the EU.
  8. Theresa May gave a speech in the Commons to update the House on the Brexit negotiations. Dominic Raab has stated that MPs will get a straight ‘deal or no deal’ vote on the Brexit agreement.
  9. A briefing paper from the Local Government Association has provided a summary for councils of recent Government technical papers to ensure businesses and citizens understand what they would need to do in a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, covering both the ‘knowns’ and ‘unknowns’ under such a scenario and their implications.
  10. The European Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP, has written to Seema Malhotra MP, a member of the Exiting the European Union Committee, setting out the EU’s understanding on the continuity of UK-EU contracts post-Brexit.
  11. Kings College London’s Policy Institute has conducted a major survey in conjunction with Ipsos MORI to consider predictions for the outcome and impact of Brexit on standards of living.
  12. EU leaders have shelved plans for a special Brexit summit next month, indicating that they are waiting for Theresa May to make a decisive move in a negotiation that could still take some time.
  13. According to Spain’s Prime Minister the UK and Spain have come to a Gibraltar Brexit deal.
  14. In a speech to the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, former head of MI6 Sir John Sawers has stated that the UK can find a new role outside the EU if the withdrawal process is carefully managed over the next five to ten years.
  15. The SRA and the Law Society have warned that about 700 European lawyers at firms in England and Wales will have to undergo an expensive requalification process if there is a no-deal Brexit.
  16. A People’s Vote protest is scheduled for the weekend, marching to advocate a second referendum on the deal, and it is supported by some MPs.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The Financial Times has assessed how Brexit will affect UK house prices and mortgages. Meanwhile industry experts have warned that Brexit could be to blame for a spike in the cost of Christmas turkeys.
  2. The Government has warned that a no deal Brexit could result in electricity blackouts across Northern Ireland.
  3. Finance chiefs including the boss of RBS, Ross McEwan, have warned that Government infighting has left the UK ‘sleepwalking towards a no deal Brexit which would severely disrupt the financial services sector.
  4. The Welsh and Scottish Governments have expressed concerns with replacing the EU Emissions Trading System with a carbon tax if there is a ‘no deal Brexit’, insisting that any approach must maintain accountability to devolved administrations and legislatures.
  5. EU leaders have scrapped plans to discuss and publish a draft declaration this week on the bloc’s future trade deal with the UK after the derailment of the talks over the Irish border, in a blow to Theresa May.
  6. Coinbase, the US cryptocurrency exchange, is set to open an office in Dublin as part of its contingency planning before the UK leaves the EU bloc.
  7. The EU’s top transport official, Violeta Bulc, has indicated that she will not bend Europe’s laws to help IAG, the Anglo-Spanish airline group that risks falling foul of post-Brexit ownership rules, if the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal.
  8. Amid the Brexit impasse, concerns are mounting for Northern Irish businesses that officials in London are failing to understand the implications for the province.
  9. Liam Fox has warned that the UK will need a longer Brexit transition period to make a free-trade deal. Meanwhile the Trump administration has told Congress that it wants to start formal trade talks with the UK ‘as soon as it’s ready’ after Brexit.
  10. Harry Western, a senior economist, has outlined two deceptions at the heart of the Government’s Chequers strategy.
  11. At the annual Investment Association dinner Philip Hammond gave a speech setting out his vision for UK-EU financial services post-Brexit.
  12. The Bank of England has confirmed it will provide analysis for different Brexit scenarios.
  13. Iain Duncan Smith has written a piece for Brexit Central arguing that the car industry’s prophecies of doom must not be allowed to prevent Brexit.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

According to Home Office figures, the number of recorded hate crimes has more than doubled in the past five years, due in part to the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the spate of terrorist attacks last year.

Health

Brexit has triggered an 87% drop in European nurses registering to work in the UK.

The General Medical Council has urged the government to clarify how doctors with qualifications from the EEA will be able to join the UK medical register, as European doctors grow ‘increasingly nervous about the post-Brexit landscape’.

Education

Professor Chris Gosden, director of the institute of archaeology at Oxford University, is bracing himself for potential disaster after Brexit as, according to academics, with science, IT and archaeology among subjects heavily funded by the EU, leaving with no deal would be cataclysmic.

Election

Police have said they will not investigate allegations of Russian state interference in the 2016 EU referendum or complaints about the involvement of foreign-based companies.

Environment

Defra has opened a consultation into amending domestic food legislation to ensure provisions will continue to operate after the UK leaves the bloc.

An independent report has been published reviewing the distribution of domestic farm support funding across the UK from 2020 to 2022.

Science and Technology

The chemical industry and NGOs have called on the EU Heads of State to allow the UK to remain within REACH post-Brexit.

Family

A House of Lords committee including Baroness Kennedy has written to David Gauke warning that a “worrying level of complacency” and lack of clarity over family courts after Brexit will have a devastating effect on disputes and children.