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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 13 November 2017

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Nicky Morgan and Yvette Cooper have written an article in The Times stressing that Ministers must not “use Brexit to bypass democracy”.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. The tensions in Theresa May’s Government have intensified ahead of the votes on the Brexit bill, as ministers accused Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of sending an “Orwellian” set of secret demands to No 10. This has reportedly left the Brexit secretary, David Davis, angry at their attempt to steer the UK’s exit.
  2. Michel Barnier has stated that a no-deal scenario is not Brussels’ preferred option, but that the EU is planning for it, and the Dutch parliament has warned its government to start making relevant contingency plans. Meanwhile the FT reports that the onus is on the UK to unblock Brexit talks, as the EU sees little point in making concessions to a weak Government.
  3. MPs have begun debating the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in Parliament, and, just prior to the beginning of this debate, David Davis announced that MPs will be given a binding vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal. The Guardian reported on this live.
  4. The House of Commons has published the list of amendments being debated. Meanwhile, whilst The Telegraph has dubbed Tories rebelling against the leave date ‘Brexit mutineers’, this approach has backfired, with Tories vowing to resist the ‘blood-curdling threats’ and accusing the Telegraph of ‘blatant bullying’. Considering the likelihood of any amendments passing, Alan Wager, for the UK in a Changing Europe, has crunched the parliamentary numbers on the withdrawal bill, whilst the Financial Times has stated that the UK Government is on the verge of giving up on its plan to put a specific date for Brexit into domestic law due to the Tory rebellion.
  5. The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has argued that the UK Government is keeping the devolved administrations “substantially in the dark” over the EU withdrawal negotiations. However, following talks at No 10, Nicola Sturgeon appeared more optimistic, though warning significant concessions are still necessary to win Holyrood support. Meanwhile Scottish Secretary David Mundell has reiterated his opposition to a second independence referendum in Scotland, whilst urging the Scottish Government to concentrate on working with the UK Government on securing a good Brexit deal.
  6. Former AG Dominic Grieve has warned that the UK Government may need to introduce more significant legislation to facilitate a post-Brexit transitional deal.
  7. Theresa May is reportedly set to meet the European Parliament’s leadership next week. Meanwhile, following talks between the Prime Minister and MEP Manfred Weber, the ally of Merkel has suggested he is ‘more optimistic’ of a breakthrough in Brexit talks, stating that Theresa May is close to offering a financial deal to progress the negotiations. However, David Davis has warned the PM not to promise too much money to Brussels ahead of next month’s European summit, insisting some must be held back for negotiating the trade deal. Britain is preparing a cause to cut the Brexit divorce bill, considering the question of what it is fair to pay. In contrast Tusk has stated that there will be no trade talks between the UK and EU unless there is progress on the issues of money and Ireland.
  8. Hans-Olaf Henkel, the former head of the Federation of German Industries, has stated that Germany expects Brexit secretary David Davis to offer his “unconditional surrender,” to the EU’s terms when he delivers a keynote speech to trade chiefs in Berlin.
  9. Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has advocated another Brexit referendum, stating that there should be “a confirming vote on a decision so monumental and irreversible”.
  10. Boris Johnson has dismissed Irish demands for a five-year Brexit transition as the gulf deepens between London and Dublin over the Northern Irish border.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. One of the UK’s largest dairy producers has warned that a badly handled Brexit could lead to price hikes for food, and scarcity in the shops from April 2019, with dairy and meat products particularly hit.
  2. European business leaders are ‘extremely concerned’ at the lack of Brexit progress, stating that he Government must clarify its Brexit plans, or risk confidence in the British economy.
  3. In the Financial Times, Nick Clegg has written an article warning against confidence in a Canada-style free-trade agreement with the EU post-Brexit, warning that, compared with the unfettered trade the UK currently enjoys with the bloc, the Canada model would include far more barriers to business. By contrast, an article by Liam Fox has argued that, by being in charge of its own trade policy, the UK will prosper through free-trade post Brexit.
  4. According to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the UK economy could enjoy a post-Brexit financial dividend of £135bn in the five years after its departure from the EU if there is a policy of free trade, reduced regulation and lower taxes.
  5. The Commons Public Accounts Select Committee has published report on Brexit and the future of customs, reported on in the FT. The Home Office has also published a paper on the delivery of Brexit in terms of customs operations, which has warned ministers about the risk of Dover lorry queues post-Brexit.
  6. The Conversation has published an article arguing that Northern Ireland’s economy has a lot more to lost from a hard Brexit than the Republic’s does.
  7. David Davis has aimed to reassure the City of London, speaking at the Landmark Hotel and making many promises including a seeking a quick deal on a transition period, a ‘durable’ co-operation agreement, and a special travel regime for professional services employees. This last suggestion has been seized on by the industry, with financial services stating that maintaining free movement for professionals is vital to preserving cross-border flows.
  8. The ECB has criticised banks’ relocation plans after Brexit, warning against setting up ‘empty shell’ operations in the euro area with insufficient staff.
  9. Theresa May’s hopes of negotiating a “deep and special” trading relationship with the EU have been dealt a fresh blow by leaked documents which emphasise that only a basic free trade deal similar to that struck with Canada will be offered.
  10. Private equity groups are agreeing to cap their investments in the UK over fears around Brexit in exchange for investors’ money in their funds. Meanwhile JP Morgan has begun telling staff whether or not they will be relocating to the EU ahead of Brexit.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

The full transcript has been published of the corrected oral evidence on Brexit: competition, to the Internal Market Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on the EU.

Data Protection

Slaughter and May have published an update on data protection and privacy.

Employment

Hundreds of people have reportedly been rejecting tech jobs following the Brexit vote, as start-ups suggest that Britain’s reputation as a centre for innovation is being damaged.

Warwick has published a policy briefing considering the regulation of EU migrant Labour, particularly focusing on the construction industry.

Health

A study by the British Medical Association has found that a fifth of European NHS doctors are planning to leave the UK, as are half of the medics from the EEA.

Immigration

Politico has argued that Brexit Britain is in denial over immigration, with the topic not having been tackled by debate since the referendum, despite being a key motivator behind the Leave campaign.

The Times Brief Premium (paywall) has reported the argument by Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC, that the proposals for European citizens’ rights may not be lawful.

Environment

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has stated that the Government must set up an environmental watchdog to enforce green standards after Brexit, following concerns that the UK departure from the EU ‘gravely threatens’ the fight against climate change.

Meg Hillier, the chair of the public accounts select committee, has stated that the Government was “sorely lacking” in the leadership needed to maintain Britain’s position in areas such as robotics and climate change after withdrawal from the EU.