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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 11 December 2017

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Following the Government’s defeat in the Commons, The Guardian reports that the Government has been forced to accept more scrutiny of Brexit law-making, conceding that she will set up a new committee of MPs to monitor any proposed legal changes as EU legislation is converted into the British statute book. Bircham Dyson Bell’s Brexit blog discusses the concessions here.
  2. As part of its inquiry on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the House of Lords’ Constitution Select Committee has heard evidence from ministers from the Department for Exiting the European Union, along with the Solicitor General, and the Leader of the House of Lords.
  3. The Scottish Government is preparing a ‘Continuity Bill’ in case significant changes are not made to UK Brexit legislation to ensure the devolution settlement was protected by providing an alternative to the EU Withdrawal Bill in the event of Brexit.
  4. The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper considering clause 7 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which David Davis has described as ‘the correcting power’.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. David Davis has sought to close a potential Brexit rift with Ireland over his claim that the first-stage deal agreed last week was a “statement of intent”, stating that these words were meant to convey that the deal was stronger than merely being legally enforceable. However Guy Verhofstadt has stated that this claim has damaged trust in the UK and will result in a hardening of positions in Brussels.
  2. A cross-party group of MPs are pushing for an amendment, to be brought forward by Dominic Grieve, that would enshrine the promise of a “truly meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal into law. However, to avoid an embarrassing defeat by Tory rebels Downing Street hinted at a climb-down, stating that it is ‘having conversations’ with Tory backbenchers. Despite this, Theresa May suffered a legislative defeat over the amendment, with eleven Tory MPs rebelling against the Government. Nonetheless she has insisted that the Brexit bill is still ‘making good progress’, though she is reportedly preparing to drop plans to enshrine the date of Brexit in law amid fears of another defeat.
  3. Writing in The Telegraph, Michael Gove stated that the British people will be able to change Theresa May’s Brexit deal at the next general election. Also in The Telegraph, Roger Bootle has argued that, if the next phase of Brexit talks goes badly, we must walk away without a deal.
  4. At a Brexit conference organised by the Hong Kong Department of Justice, entitled Impact of Brexit on the Development of Common Law, Dispute Resolution and Judicial Cooperation in civil and commercial matters, Lord Justice Hamblen spoke to address the ‘Myths of Brexit’. Meanwhile the Government has responded to the Justice Committee’s report on the implications of Brexit for the justice system.
  5. According to the EU Observer, the EU will draw up negotiating guidelines for talks on future relations with the UK at its March summit, according to updated document set to be endorsed by EU leaders on Friday. Meanwhile EU leaders are have agreed at this summit to move Brexit talks into their second phase, calling on the UK to provide more clarity on the kind of deal it wants. The Financial Times has analysed the deal. Meanwhile DEXEU has published the single departmental plan.
  6. Michel Barnier has warned that the EU will not accept any Brexit deal that undermines the four freedoms, emphasising that some points will be non-negotiable for Brussels in upcoming talks on the new trading relationship.
  7. A key ally of Angela Merkel, Manfred Weber, has claimed that a growing awareness of the damaging terms of a future Brexit deal has led to a rise in support in the UK for a second referendum on EU membership.
  8. The Commons’ Exiting the EU Committee has looked into the suitability of access to and continued membership of EU agencies post-Brexit.
  9. Lord Pannick has warned that judges are afraid of being dragged into political controversy by the Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill allowing them to take account of CJEU rulings after Brexit.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The EU has told Theresa May it will not start discussing the terms of a trade relationship with the UK until February at the earliest, and only then if the British prime minister has taken a grip of her divided cabinet and come up with an agreed vision of the future. Meanwhile Brussels officials have warned the UK that full negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union will only begin after March 2019.
  2. The British Chambers of Commerce have warned that the economy will remain in the slow lane, as uncertainty from Brexit puts their investment plans on ice despite progress with Brussels, whilst urging politicians to move talks to transition and trade. According to The Guardian reporting on analysis by accountancy firm EY, City firms plan to move 10,500 jobs out of the UK on “day one” of Brexit, with Dublin and Frankfurt the financial centres most likely to benefit from the UK’s departure from the EU.
  3. The Financial Times has considered nine tasks UK businesses must focus on pre-Brexit, and asked whether a transition deal will help.
  4. In a significant departure from warnings of an imminent ‘point of no return’, some of the City’s most influential bankers have stated that they would halt or reverse moves out of London if there was an 11th hour deal for the UK to remain in the Single Market.
  5. The Independent Transport Commission has warned the Government that a lack of support for the aviation sector could lead to trade suffering once the UK leaves the EU. Meanwhile the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has published a report considering the implications for the civil nuclear sector.
  6. Taking a pragmatic stance, Italy has called on the EU to offer a ‘tailor-made’ Brexit trade deal to the UK, though it has stated that London must make the first move.
  7. The Common’s Treasury Select Committee has published a report considering the transitional arrangements for exiting the EU.
  8. Theresa May is stalling with her EU counterparts as her Cabinet seeks to find unity on what sort of trade deal the UK wants with Brussels. However the Government is making a diplomatic push topersuade the EU to publicly and explicitly state its willingness to hold talks on post-Brexit trade before March next year.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

Blackstone Chambers has considered whether Brexit and the withdrawal bill are likely to lead to the UK losing its position at the top of competition claims.

 

Health

Britain’s chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries have called on the Government to let them remain within EU rules, with the Chemical Industries Association having written a letter to Michael Gove who champions regulatory divergence.

The Financial Times reports that the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the BioIndustry Association have stated that Europe’s ability to manage big public-health crises related to the use of medicines could be at risk if the UK were excluded from cross-EU incident management planning.

The Life Science Industry Coalition has published a position paper considering key challenges lying ahead in the Brexit negotiations and proposed solutions to safeguard public health.

Immigration

British nationals in mainland Europe have stated that they feel like ‘bargaining chips’, and that the first-stage deal does not guarantee their rights. Meanwhile the EU Law Analysis blog has considered the position of citizens’ rights in the Brexit ‘sufficient progress’ deal.

The head of Unicef UK has warned that post-Brexit immigration law could mean refugee children are permanently separated from their families, urging MPs to support a Conservative-backed amendment on refugee rights to the EU withdrawal bill which would allow children to be reunited with wider family members in UK, not just parents.

The Centre for European Reform has argued that the biggest Brexit boon for Germany will be migration as its economy desperately needs qualified immigrants to fill its jobs.

Home Office minister Brandon Lewis has stated that it will only take a couple of minutes for EU citizens to register online to stay in the UK after Brexit.

The European Commission has published a memo of questions and answers considering the rights of EU27 and UK citizens post-Brexit.

Environment

In a joint report, EIC and Aether have considered how we can improve air quality after Brexit.