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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 15 January 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. As the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill completes its progress through the Commons, Aaron Nelson and David Mundy take a look at the debate on – and amendments to – the Bill so far, over on Bircham Dyson Bell’s Great Repeal Bill blog.
  2. On the UK Constitutional Law Association blog, Mike Gordon has published a two part discussion (here and here) of parliamentary sovereignty and the implementation of the EU withdrawal agreement.
  3. The Times Brief reports on the legal opinion given to Theresa May by Jessica Simor QC, Tim Ward QC and Marie Demetriou QC arguing that the Article 50 process for departure could be unilaterally withdrawn by ministers until 29 March 2019. The European Parliament has produced an in-depth analysis of the (ir-)revocability of the withdrawal notification under Article 50 of the TEU.
  4. Andrew Blick, on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog, has considered the constitutional implications of a second referendum “of some kind”.
  5. The House of Lords EU Select Committee has launched a follow-up inquiry to its December 2016 report on Brexit: UK-Irish relations.
  6. A group of UK nationals living in the Netherlands are going to a Dutch court to challenge the right of the British Government and the European Commission to negotiate away their rights as EU citizens in the Brexit talks.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is to meet key EU-backing MPs, and is understood to be keen to engage directly with British parliamentarians.
  2. Britain and France are in danger of drifting apart as a result of Brexit, undermining defence and security cooperation, according to Lord Ricketts, a former UK national security adviser and former ambassador to France.
  3. Dublin is bidding to be a new European hub for international commercial law in the event that a “hard Brexit” undermines the status of Britain’s courts and English law.
  4. Theresa May is reportedly set to be handed less favourable terms in any transition period following Brexit amid growing pressure from Norwegian officials who do not want the UK to reach a better deal with the bloc than the one Norway currently enjoys. Nonetheless Macron is to advocate closer defence ties with the UK under a new European defence initiative and Lord Peter Ricketts has written a Briefing Paper recommending that the UK and France step up joint work on defence, security and nuclear deterrence policy.
  5. The House of Lords have debated the report by the EU Select Committee which outlines the potential impact on the UK of leaving the EU without a deal, and examines the feasibility of a transition period immediately post-Brexit.
  6. The EU Justice Sub-Committee has met a senior judge and an official from the European Free Trade Association to discuss options for the UK’s legal interactions with the EU post-Brexit. Meanwhile the Financial Times reports that the EU’s Swiss proposal regarding an arbitration panel for trade disputes could serve as a Brexit blueprint.
  7. Politico has assessed the impact of Brexit across the EU, finding it will vary considerably between regions. Meanwhile the UK Human Rights Blog has published an article considering whether Britain and the courts are ready for the likely wave of post-Brexit legislation and potential litigation.
  8. The Institute for Government has published a Brexit negotiating timeline, including considering threats and options for extensions.
  9. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has told the European Parliament that there can be “no backsliding” on the UK’s guarantee to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  10. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has cleared the Commons to go the Lords; Labour was hit by rebellion as 48 MPs defied the whip to vote for an amendment on the UK’s Single Market membership. During the debate, Justine Greening warned that young people will undo Brexit if the Government strikes a deal against their interests.
  11. Communications consultancy Portland has published two papers, one on Making Sense of Brexit, and the other discussing Cliff Edge: Is Britain ready for no deal?

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. Nicola Sturgeon MSP has described as “shameful” Westminster’s failure to consider the impact of Brexit on the economy, as her own Government prepares to publish a “clear-eyed, hard-headed” analysis of potential outcomes. This analysis warns that a hard Brexit, where the UK falls back on WTO rules, would cost Scotland up to £12.7bn with real household incomes falling by 9.6%.
  2. Sam Woods, Head of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, has warned that differences between European and UK regulators over how to treat investment banks post-Brexit may be a flashpoint in discussions.
  3. It has been reported that there will be no automatic rollover of the EU’s trade deals for the UK during the transition period; rather, the UK will not necessarily have access to third countries’ markets, but will have to respect EU tariffs when receiving goods from the third country. French president Emmanuel Macron has rejected the idea of a tailored Brexit deal for the City, insisting Britain will not be allowed full access to EU markets, including financial services, unless it pays into the EU budget and accepts all its rules. According to the Financial Times, the majority of businesses want regulatory alignment after Brexit.
  4. European Investment Bank lending in the UK has fallen sharply as Brexit uncertainties spook promoters and throw up legal complications. Meanwhile, for the Centre for European Reform, Sam Lowe has argued that the UK will not be able to replicate the EU’s free trade agreements ready for 30 March 2019, and therefore that the UK must ask the EU for help.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

In a speech at the Alliance for Intellectual Property reception, Matt Hancock MP has stated that Brexit will provide the opportunity to strike trade deals independently with new markets and that intellectual property will be at the heart of these discussions.

According to the Financial Times, the majority of businesses want regulatory alignment after Brexit.

Health

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has provided an update to pharmaceutical companies on preparations for exiting the EU.

Immigration

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis MP has written to Lord Boswell, the Chairman of the Lords EU Committee, in response to its report on the impact of Brexit on the UK-EU movement of people.

Migration Watch UK has published a consideration of the implications for immigration of a post-Brexit transition period.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

According to leading human rights organisations including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International, a human rights deficit will be created by the government’s EU withdrawal bill, leaving many different groups in society without adequate protection.

Suella Fernandes MP has claimed that the UK’s plan to drop the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights after Brexit would help avoid an “extra layer” of human rights, contradicting the Government’s assurance that no protections would be lost (there’s some analysis of this on Bircham Dyson Bell’s Great Repeal Bill blog).

Labour MP Peter Kyle has written to the Prime Minister urging her to commit to remaining in EU legal and security agreements after Britain leaves the bloc, or risk undermining efforts to crack down on modern slavery.

Environment

In the Financial Times, Alan Beattie has argued that the Government faces a choice between recreating the EU’s support for farmers, or diversifying the rural economy.

The Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has drawn attention to the challenges Brexit poses for the UK’s trade in waste as the UK currently exports millions of tonnes of waste to the EU each year.