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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 19 February 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. The Financial Times argues that an answer is needed on Ireland as the UK seems increasingly uncertain over how to avoid the re-emergence of a hard border. Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, has accused ‘reckless’ Brexit-supporting MPs of endangering the Northern Ireland peace process, after several suggested that the Good Friday Agreement presented a barrier to negotiations over leaving the EU.
  2. Proposed changes to Clause 11 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill have been shared with devolved administrations ahead of a Joint Ministerial Committee meeting.
  3. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has accused UK ministers of threatening to veto Scottish policy-making as their talks over Brexit reached a critical stage.
  4. Vernon Bogdanor has written an article in The Times arguing that Brexit reveals the nakedness of our unprotected constitution, with the lack of a codified, written constitution enabling rights protections to be decimated.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. In her Munich speech, Theresa May called for a new UK-EU security treaty post-Brexit, offering a concession on the CJEU role in return. However, according to the Financial Times, EU leaders gave the idea a “lukewarm” response.
  2. Theresa May has reportedly been forced to reassure Brexiters on the Conservative backbenches as her 11-member Brexit inner cabinet prepared to assemble for an eight-hour awayday to thrash out a deal on Britain’s future relationship with the EU. However pro-Brexit ministers have claimed victory after a key Cabinet committee agreed a compromise deal on the UK’s future relationship with the EU in crunch talks. The FT considers the truce in light of Labour’s apparent shift in position to arguing to keep the UK in “a customs union”, which could result in a Commons defeat for the Government.
  3. The EU27 have ruled out the UK Government’s preferred approach to a future trade deal, under which the UK would be in regulatory alignment with the EU in some areas while finding different ways to achieve the same outcomes in other sectors, describing it as a risk to the European project.
  4. In a speech in Austria, David Davis told business leaders that fears that leaving the EU will plunge the UK into a “Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction” are unfounded. His speech, considered in The Guardian, insisted that Brexit “will not change the kind of country Britain is”. Meanwhile The Guardian has published a detailed analysis of David Davis as negotiator.
  5. A group of 62 Tory Eurosceptic MPs have written a letter to Theresa May, urging her to hold firm on plans for Brexit to mean leaving the Single Market and Customs Union. Meanwhile Charles Grant for the Centre for European Reform has argued that Theresa May can’t afford red lines on Brexit. For the Financial Times, Malcolm Rifkind has argued that Brexit must mean leaving the Single Market, arguing that “any other option is democratically indefensible”.
  6. The House of Commons Library has published a briefing in advance of a Westminster Hall debate considering the alternatives to a no-deal outcome in the Brexit negotiations. It has also published a research briefing looking at the January 2018 negotiating directives drawn up by the Council of Ministers.
  7. The Financial Times has reported that the UK is on a collision course with the EU as the UK’s position paper does not contain an end date for the transition period, stating that it wants at least 24 months, and it is trying to give itself the power to reject new EU laws. However, Downing Street has insisted there will be a firm end-date to the Brexit transition period, but Theresa May has angered Cabinet ministers by signing off on Britain’s negotiating strategy for the transition period after Brexit.
  8. The Lords EU Select Committee has travelled to Brussels to continue its scrutiny of Brexit negotiations.
  9. The Financial Times has considered the road to the March Council, and three issues which continue to put pressure on the Prime Minister.
  10. The Institute for Public Policy Research has published a briefing considering new findings on public attitudes to Brexit.
  11. City leaders from some of the biggest cities outside London have accused the Government of failing to involve them in the Brexit process, as a group of councillors and mayors met the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barmier.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The European Scrutiny Select Committee has asked the Government for urgent clarification about the financial implications for UK taxpayers of  the proposed transition period after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, with The Guardian reporting that the transition extension could cost £5bn. The paper also reports that the UK will lose its rebate from the EU at end of 2020 if it seeks to extend the Brexit transition beyond then.
  2. The UK Trade Policy Observatory has argued that, as trade impacts on a range of environmental, economic, and social issues both at home and abroad, the UK will not be able to claim to be pursuing sustainable development in its trade policies without accounting for this.
  3. Ireland’s efforts to build infrastructure that will prevent its securities markets being upended by a hard Brexit have been boosted, with Euroclear announcing plans to create a settlement system which is not reliant on London.
  4. KPMG has published a report considering the impact of non-tariff barriers as a result of Brexit.
  5. Many British tech start-ups and entrepreneurs have begun strengthening their businesses in mainland Europe due to prolonged uncertainties over post-Brexit policies on immigration and passporting rights.
  6. Research has found that most UK law firms view Brexit as a threat, but only 23% have drafted a plan for it.
  7. Leading European scientists have stated that a powerful European Research Area should emerge after Brexit, but that the UK should be prepared to pay significantly more to take part in European research programmes after it leaves the bloc than it does as a member.
  8. According to the Financial Times Brexit anxieties are growing over London’s market infrastructure.
  9. The Director-General of the CBI has argued that building as close a relationship as possible with Europe and seizing opportunities to build our trade with China are both possible.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

The Director General of the National Crime Agency has issued a statement on UK law enforcement relations with the EU.

Employment

The Conversation blog has written an article considering why Brexit may look like it’s having a worse effect on the jobs market than it actually is.

Health

Neil Kinnock has put Jeremy Corbyn under intense pressure to shift Labour’s position on Brexit after 20,000 members demanded a say over the issue, stating that Brexit must be stopped to save the NHS.

Immigration

Guy Verhofstadt has stated that Theresa May’s demand that EU nationals coming to the UK during a Brexit transition deal should enjoy fewer rights than those already in the country would amount to “penalising citizens”.

The net migration of EU nationals to Britain has fallen by 75,000 as Brexit uncertainty outweighs the UK’s reputation as ‘jobs factory of Europe’.

For The UK in a Changing Europe, Professor Jonathan Portes has argued that the current Government fudge on immigration policy is not approved by anyone.

Theresa May is reportedly preparing to bow to Brussels and allow EU migrants who arrive in the UK during the Brexit transition period permanent residency.

Academics, researchers and scientists have spoken out, seeking continued free movement after Brexit, with foreign researchers appearing to shun UK universities because of immigration regime fears.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

The UK in a Changing Europe has published an article arguing that there are no simple solutions to human rights post-Brexit.

Vernon Bogdanor has written an article in The Times arguing that Brexit reveals the nakedness of our unprotected constitution, as this allows us to withdraw from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, decreasing human rights protections.

Amnesty International has warned that the Brexit bill is set to ‘substantially reduce rights in the UK’ in its annual report.

Education

The Conversation blog has argued that German universities are amongst those poised to benefit if researchers and funding shifts following Brexit.

Environment

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has published a report considering Brexit and trade in food.

Farming union president Meurig Raymond has taken a veiled swipe at Liam Fox’s ‘cheap food policy’ at NFU conference, stating that ‘frictionless’ EU trade is vital post-Brexit for UK farming to survive.

Michael Gove has been told by the NFU that the lack of migrant workers is now ‘mission critical’, with it becoming necessary to look for labour supply from outside the EU.

Norton Rose Fulbright has published an article considering Brexit, the Emissions Trading Scheme and Aviation.

Events

  1. Matrix Chambers is hosting ‘UK-EU Dispute Resolution Post-Brexit: What role for the CJEU?’ on 27th February 2018, with registration from 3pm.