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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 22 October 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Ministers have estimated that between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments will be needed to ensure there are no holes in the UK’s statute book before EU laws are repealed on exit day on March 29 next year.
  2. The Scottish Government has published a paper setting out its view on why the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals will not work and why a no deal Brexit would be extremely damaging. It also proposes a plan for resolving these issues through the UK’s long-term membership of the European single market and customs union, and urges the UK government to adopt this plan.
  3. Following a meeting in Bristol, a new network of mayors and city leaders has stated that a radical shift of power from Westminster to increase local Government control is needed to help combat the impact of Brexit.
  4. A CMS blog post on Lexology argues that, as a consequence of leaving the EU, the UK will no longer be bound by the Lugano Convention which currently governs judgments with Switzerland.
  5. Considering how much regulatory divergence is possible within the UK, Open Europe’s Henry Newman has examined what proposals for a Northern Irish-specific backstop on regulations might mean for future regulatory divergence within the UK.
  6. Argentina’s foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, has warned that a no-deal Brexit could boost Argentine efforts to “enhance” relations with the Falkland Islands.
  7. For the UK Constitutional Law Association Blog, Jack Simson Caird has discussed the letter from Dominic Raab along with the Government Memorandumon the Government’s views on how the procedural arrangements for the meaningful vote in the Commons agreed in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 should work. The House of Commons has published a Memorandum from the Government on parliamentary approval of the Withdrawal Agreement.
  8. The Financial Times has reported on the difficulty faced by Theresa May as the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, has rejected a compromise plan to settle the deadlock with Brussels.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. 700,000 people attended the People’s Vote march through central London, demanding a new referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
  2. Theresa May is facing a rebellion by more than 40 of her MPs if she does not agree to fresh demands from Brexiters including amendments to Government legislation that would stop Northern Ireland being placed in a different regulatory and customs territory from the rest of Britain. Meanwhile the prime minister is reportedly also facing a Cabinet revolt after attempting to shore up support for her Brexit plans during an hour-and-a-half long conference call with her ministers. However she has defended her handling of the Brexit talks, stating the 95% of the withdrawal agreement is complete. Civil servants have reportedly begun contingency planning for a second Brexit referendum amid fears Theresa May is unable to get parliament to back a deal.
  3. In The Guardian, Fintan O’Toole has argued that the Brexiters don’t care about Northern Ireland, and are using the rejection of a hard border as an excuse for no deal. Meanwhile new data released by Northern Ireland’s emergency service has warned that a post-Brexit hard border in Northern Ireland could put lives at risk, as hundreds of emergency vehicles have crossed the frontier in the past two years.
  4. The House of Commons has published a Memorandum from the Government on parliamentary approval of the Withdrawal Agreement.
  5. For Brexit Central, Gisela Stuart has argued that the transition period must not be extended. Meanwhile, setting out a four-point plan to break the Brexit deadlock, Theresa May has left open the possibility of an extended transition, though has insisted that the period will end ‘well before’ 2022. She has also set a date in November for Whitehall to trigger a series of no-deal Brexit preparations, facing up to the possibility that there will be no agreement with the EU about Britain’s departure.
  6. The weekend’s newspapers included a string of violent comments about the embattled Prime Minister, with anonymous pro-Brexit MPs advising her to “bring her own noose” to Wednesday’s crunch meeting of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs; however leadingBrexiter critics of Theresa May leapt to her defence in response. The prime minister emerged unscathed from the packed meeting, giving an “emotional and personal” speech which reportedly won over MPs.
  7. In a bid to overcome the impasse, Michel Barnier has stated that he is prepared to delete the contentious references to Northern Ireland staying with the EU’s ‘customs territory’ in Brussels’ Brexit plan.
  8. The Government is to start issuing instructions to UK-based companies next month on the action they will need to take in the event of a no-deal Brexit, irrespective of how withdrawal negotiations with the EU progress in Brussels.
  9. According to a YouGov poll, 67% of Britons think Theresa May’s Government is handling the Brexit talks badly. Meanwhile an EU public opinion survey has found that Britons would now vote to remain in the EU by a margin of 53 to 35%, with 12% undecided.
  10. Cabinet ministers have warned Theresa May that a no-deal Brexit could plunge Britain into an economic crisis and force the Government to charter ships to access food and medicines. This is also reported in the Financial Times.
  11. The Times has seen Cabinet papers outlining the option of the UK staying in a rolling, multi-year transition post-Brexit, which Geoffrey Cox has likened to the limbo of Dante’s first circle of hell. However, at a meeting of the 1922 Committee, Theresa May is to reassure Conservative MPs that she will not sign a deal leaving the UK in limbo over the customs union or end up to Northern Ireland being split from the rest of the country.
  12. The fifth meeting of the Ministerial Forum (EU Negotiations) has discussed the latest state of EU negotiations, the UK Government’s proposal for co-operative accords, the co-operative accord for science and innovation and the co-operative accord for culture and education.
  13. The Lords EU Committee has written to Dominic Raab, following his refusal to give evidence to the Committee until after a final deal has been made with the EU, describing this as ‘unacceptable’, and urging him to engage with Committees in order to scrutinise the Withdrawal Agreement and the future UK–EU relationship.
  14. The Financial Times has published a Brexit timeline for the final straight in the UK’s divorce from the EU.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. CBI research has found that eight out of ten firms say Brexit has had a negative effect on investment decisions. Meanwhile the latest quarterly CBI Industrial Trends Survey found that Brexit uncertainty has led manufacturing new orders to fall at the fastest pace in three years in the quarter to October, reflecting falls in both domestic and export orders.
  2. The president of Toyota has warned about the growing apprehension over a no-deal Brexit, stating that manufacturers and consumers alike will be hit by ‘spiralling’ costs and rising vehicle prices.
  3. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has urged EU leaders to do a Brexit deal, in a sign of how the deadlock in the talks has sparked alarm in a crucial economic partner of the bloc.
  4. RBS has set aside £2bn to help small businesses deal with Brexit as uncertainty around the terms of the UK’s departure creates concerns about supply chains and financial risks for many businesses.
  5. The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to Michael Gove, expressing ‘serious concerns’ regarding the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, identifying five key areas of concern regarding exports and trade.
  6. Rating agency Moody’s has warned that a no-deal Brexit would lead to house prices falling across the UK. Meanwhile, according to The Conversation blog, Brexit has already hurt EU and non-EU exports by up to 13%.
  7. Liam Fox has written a letter to the Chair of the International Trade Committee setting out the Department for International Trade’s progress on EU exit preparations.
  8. Tom Scholar, a top official in the Treasury told the select committee that a close relationship with the EU is ‘absolutely essential’ to support economic growth and afford the inevitable costs of Brexit. Meanwhile the Economists for Free Trade have published a report forecasting huge economic gains in the event that Britain leaves the EU under a Super Canada or World Trade Deal. The NIESR has also published a forecast for the UK economy.
  9. The Financial Times has published an article discussing the potential effect of leaving the EU on Britain’s public finances and the budget. Meanwhile the ECB is facing challenges including worries about the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
  10. RBS has broken ranks with the rest of the British banking industry in implementing several profit-hitting measures to prepare for the fallout from a disorderly Brexit.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

The Commons Justice Committee has held a one-off session to follow up the previous Committee’s inquiry into the Implications of Brexit for the Justice System.

The Ministry of Justice has been unable to say whether ‘any sort of deal’ with the EU would be more beneficial than the status quo for the legal services sector post-Brexit.

Criminal

The NAO has published a report on the preparedness for Brexit of the UK border, finding that border disruption following a no-deal Brexit could create serious security weaknesses and be exploited by organised criminals.
The chief of the National Crime Agency, Lynne Owens, has warned that the ability of UK police to tackle serious and organised crime could be “significantly impacted” by a no-deal Brexit.

Employment

The Department for Transport has published guidance on what commercial drivers may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA post-Brexit.

Health

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has written a letter to all suppliers of medical devices and clinical consumables concerning an update on contingency planning for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario.

Environment

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has stated that the UK’s biosecurity could be at risk if the UK loses access to EU alerts on pest and disease threats to animals and plants after it exits the EU.

A report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee recommends that if the Northern Ireland government is not restored by the end of 2018, then the Government must clarify how it will devise a post-Brexit agricultural policy for Northern Ireland in the absence of an Executive.

Science and Technology

A coalition of Nobel laureates has said a hard Brexit could cripple UK science, in a letter to Theresa May and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.