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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 18 December 2017

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. The Institute for Government has considered the current progress of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
  2. The Lords EU Select Committee head from Damian Green MP, First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office, following up its Brexit: devolution report.
  3. The Court of Session in Edinburgh has said a legal action in the CJEU can go ahead to establish whether the UK can unilaterally stop the Brexit process if British voters decide the final deal is unacceptable.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. In an exclusive interview for Prospect, Michel Barnier has stated that there is ‘no way’ the UK will be allowed a bespoke deal. He has also denied that there will be a special deal for the City. Meanwhile, The Conversation has drawn together reactions from experts to the EU’s agreement to start phase two of the Brexit talks.
  2. Conservative backbench rebels who defeated the Government last week are reportedly urging Theresa May to reach out to Labour MPs and form a cross-party alliance for a soft Brexit.
  3. Theresa May made a speech in Parliament on the EU Council meeting, and Cabinet ministers have met for their first formal discussions on the UK’s future trade relationship with the EU, with divisions over whether the Government should prioritise market access or the freedom to diverge from the bloc’s rules and Theresa May urging the UK to aim high.
  4. Theresa May is reportedly ‘preparing for third big Brexit speech’ to set out trade aims. Meanwhile the EU has stated that the Brexit transition period must end no later than the 31st December 2020.
  5. The European Commission has stated that a bilateral agreement is needed between London and Madrid over Gibraltar if the overseas territory is to be covered by transition arrangements and not cast out of the single market on Brexit day. It has also recommended draft negotiating directives for the next phase of art 50 negotiations.
  6. Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, has warned that Brexit is set to cause a loss of UK influence on a par with the 1970s, requiring a national assessment of how the UK’s future standing can be recovered once Brexit is complete.
  7. The Liberal Democrats have suggested that Britain could have a referendum on the terms of the post-Brexit in late 2018, proposing a lengthy 12-week campaign starting in September to give the UK the option to accept a deal or stay in the EU.
  8. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has cleared the Commons, with the acceptance of an amendment by Oliver Letwin to leave the Brexit date as 29 March 2019 in the legislation, but giving MPs the power to push it back if the EU27 agree.
  9. Following a letter from the Lords EU Committee, David Davis and the Committee on Exiting the EU have published the Brexit sectoral analyses. However, these have been criticised as containing little more than padding, repetition and plagiarism.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The IPPR has suggested that the UK and EU can permanently align their rules after Brexit, with a mechanism to allow some divergence in exchange for compensation.
  2. Major investment banks are split on whether they have to move hundreds of billions of clients’ assets ahead of Brexit, or should leave existing trades where they are even after the UK leaves the EU. Meanwhile the Bank of England has unveiled plans to allow European banks to operate in the UK as normal post-Brexit.
  3. The House of Lords EU Committee has published a report considering whether consumers will be protected under Brexit.
  4. The EU External Affairs Sub-Committee has published a report on sanctions policy post-Brexit concluding that the effectiveness of UK sanctions will be undermined unless the UK can quickly agree arrangements for future sanctions policy co-operation with the EU.
  5. The Financial Times warns that the UK is set to fall out of at least 750 agreements with other countries upon leaving the EU in 2019. Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund has strongly defended its gloomy forecasts for the UK after Brexit, saying pre-referendum warnings of slower growth were coming true.
  6. A University of Birmingham study entitled ‘The continental divide? Economic exposure to Brexit in regions and countries on both sides of The Channel’ has concluded that the UK regions that voted to leave the EU are more economically exposed to the effects of Brexit than anywhere else in Europe.
  7. The Treasury Committee has published a letter from the economic secretary to the Treasury, Steven Barclay MP, setting out HM Treasury’s approach to the roles and responsibilities of HM Treasury and the UK regulators in relation to financial services legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Employment

Law Society president, Joe Egan, has warned that a ‘Canada-plus’ style Brexit deal would strip lawyers of their right to work in the EU.

Immigration

Net migration from the EU to the UK in the second quarter of this year fell to its lowest level since records began.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has written an open letter directly to EU citizens in the UK about the agreement reached with the EU on their rights.

The Home Office has announced that British passports will be navy blue after Brexit, with Immigration minister Brandon Lewis stating that replacing EU’s burgundy design will help Britain ‘restore national identity’.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

The Children’s Society has published a joint report, exploring the specific implications of Brexit on children and young people and stressing the need for the Government to ensure that all existing protections for children’s rights in the EU legislative framework are protected and preserved in domestic law after Brexit.

The British Institute for Human Rights has published a letter signed by over 140 organisations urging Theresa May to safeguard human rights today, during and after Brexit.

Environment

The NAO has published a report on the implementation of leaving the EU by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is responsible for developing and implementing policy on the environment, food and rural issues.