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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 3 September 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 a poll by Our Future Out Choice, 47% of Scots would vote for independence after Britain leaves the EU, compared to 43% who would continue to support the Union.
  2. The latest YouGov research shows that, if a referendum were held now, it may well produce Remain majorities in all three nations of the United Kingdom outside England.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Boris Johnson has accused Theresa May of waving “the white flag” in the Brexit negotiations and predicted that the talks will end in “victory” for the EU. Meanwhile Theresa May is facing fresh pressure over Brexit from Tory marginal seats and her former elections guru Sir Lynton Crosby is reportedly working with Eurosceptic Tories to kill off her Chequers plan.
  2. Michel Barnier has stated that he is ‘strongly’ opposed to parts of Theresa May’s plan, and in meeting with MPs has proposed a Canada-style Brexit deal over the Chequers plan.
  3. Andy Burnham has backed a second referendum on Brexit as a last resort if no deal is achieved. However the Prime Minister has dismissed demands for a so-called People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal – despite growing support for the campaign among her own backbenchers and party donors – saying such a move would be a “betrayal of democracy”. She has also dismissed Boris Johnson’s attack, stating that he has ‘no new ideas’ whilst she is offering ‘serious leadership and a serious plan’.
  4. David Davis has promised to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit plan, with the Financial Times reporting that this raises the prospect that the Prime Minister could be defeated in Parliament later this year.
  5. Upon Parliament resuming following its summer recess, Dominic Raab has given a statement to update on the summer progress of the Brexit negotiations.
  6. Plymouth City Council has claimed to be the first to use the Sustainable Communities Act to try to force the Government to reveal the impact of Brexit.
  7. French president, Emmanuel Macron, has stressed his opposition to a “blind Brexit” in which the UK leaves the EU without clarity on the terms of a future trade deal, fearing that pushing the issue down the line could lead to an extension of the 21-month transition period. Meanwhile the EU27 are planning a “carrot and stick” approach to Brexit at an upcoming summit, offering Theresa May warm words on the Chequers proposals to take to the Conservative conference alongside a sharp warning that they need a plan for Northern Ireland within weeks. Reuters has reported that Angela Merkel has used a speech to a financial conference to state that Germany is doing all it can to ensure the EU and Britain reach a divorce deal but also to warn that success is not guaranteed.
  8. GMB, one of Britain’s biggest unions, has called for a vote on the final Brexit deal in a move that will increase pressure upon Jeremy Corbyn to adopt a similar line.
  9. Carol-Ann O’Keeffe, a senior Irish tax official, has revealed that Ireland is hoping to seal a special Brexit side deal in Brussels allowing it to continue using the UK as a “land bridge” for goods in transit to Dublin without border checks.
  10. Senior Conservative figures have claimed that Theresa May has until November to ditch the Chequers deal before Brexiteers would consider ousting her.
  11. The Financial Times has analysed Dominic Raab, stating that he has established a reputation for energy contrasting with his predecessor, but querying how much sway he has as the real power rests with May and Robbins.
  12. Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe has outlined the arrangements planned by the EU27 to prepare for a possible ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The UK in a Changing Europe has published a new report, Cost of No Deal Revisited, which finds a chaotic Brexit – where the UK fails to sign a withdrawal agreement – would generate short-term uncertainties including the disappearance, without replacement, of many of the rules underpinning the UK’s economic and regulatory structures.
  2. According to the head of Japan’s most powerful business lobby, Japanese companies are increasingly frustrated by the double talk from the British Government over Brexit and are hamstrung on how to respond.
  3. Brussels has warned that Britain must do more to protect EU food products such as champagne and Parma ham, highlighting this are of trade policy as a vital sticking point along with the Irish border in final negotiations.
  4. Brexit could drive up energy bills, power companies have said, because trade barriers threaten to increase the cost of importing gas and electricity across the Channel.
  5. For The Times, Mathew Rea has argued that London may not remain the undisputed king of global commercial law as, if Brexit means judgments are not enforceable on the continent, Frankfurt and Paris may lure business to their new Anglophone courts.
  6. The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has said that Labour would vote against a proposed EU-UK free trade deal, similar to the Canada arrangement, that is now being backed by Michel Barnier and David Davis.
  7. Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has hit out at the UK’s “incompetent” handling of the Brexit negotiations, stating that the Government’s references to stockpiling has left the UK without a credible bargaining position.
  8. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has published a discussion on the challenges that will be posed to trading standards post-Brexit.
  9. Philip Hammondhas warned that the Government would have to refocus its priorities if the Brexit negotiations resulted in no deal, as details emerged of a Whitehall contingency plan codenamed Operation Yellowhammer.
  10. UK asset manager Ashmore has decided to prepare for a ‘worst case’ scenario, and has unveiled plans to establish an office in Ireland before Britain leaves the EU.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Employment

The Government has announced a new temporary work visa for agricultural workers in response to a two-year campaign by farmers to plug the gap in the labour force opened up by Brexit. However this has been criticised by farmers as not going far enough to plug the gap caused by Brexit.

The National Audit Office has warned that delays in granting security clearance for civil servants are putting the implementation of crucial Government policies such as Brexit at risk.

Immigration

The 59 pages of guidance notes issued by the Home Office to help staff register EU citizens for a post-Brexit scheme for ‘settled status’ has been criticised by lawyers as lacking clarity.

Education

Sir Steve Smith, vice-chancellor of Exeter University and chairman of Universities UK’s international policy network, has launched proposals for a visa that would allow overseas students to stay in the country to work for up to two years after graduation, stating that this will be an important source of soft power in the post-Brexit era.

Environment

The CEOs of ten leading energy companies and trade associations have signed a letter calling for the continued cooperation between the UK and the EU on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change after Brexit.