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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 22 January 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. The Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell, has stated that the UK Government must work more closely with devolved governments as they embark on a second phase of negotiations with the EU in order to achieve best possible outcome.
  2. The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper considering EU decisions and legislating for Brexit. The Commons Select Committee on European Scrutiny has published its tenth report looking at documents in the light of the UK decision to withdraw from the EU. Experts have given evidence to the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, on how devolution has changed the UK constitution ahead of Brexit.
  3. MEPs have voted to reduce the size of the European Parliament after Brexit, with seats to reduce from 751 to 705 – the remaining 27 (currently) British seats being redistributed amongst member countries to compensate for existing biases in representation.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. The UK in a Changing Europe has reported on a survey of MPs which has found that Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn face significant political challenges over Brexit.
  2. In comments caught at the World Economic Forum in Davos, David Cameron has stated that Brexit was a “mistake, not a disaster”. Meanwhile at Davos, Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, has stated that the US still has a close relationship with the UK, and is ‘very supportive’ of the UK on Brexit. At the World Economic Forum, Philip Hammond provoked a Tory backlash by calling for a soft Brexit in his speech, in which there would be only ‘very modest’ changes to Britain’s relationship with the EU. Theresa May has disowned his remarks.
  3. Whilst Theresa May is reportedly facing a Eurosceptic rebellion over the two year Brexit transition period, with Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting the UK will merely be a ‘vassal state’ in this period: subject to EU rules and judgments but with no influence over them. Lord Lawson has suggested that civil servants will “do their best to frustrate Brexit”, arguing that Whitehall feels uneasy about Brexit because it represents radical change.
  4. A paper written by David Keighley and Andrew Jubb for Civitas makes claims that how pro-Brexit views have been marginalised in the BBC’s news coverage.
  5. Cabinet ministers who backed remain are urging Theresa May to explore whether the UK can secure a Brexit trade deal with the EU by making ‘Norway-style’ payments to the bloc. Meanwhile a key figure on the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group has told The Independent that the UK has already ‘agreed in principle’ to a Norway-style transition as officials did not object to the plans in meetings.
  6. EU diplomats have stated that the UK’s failure to formally ask for continuation of non-EU deals is an example of lethargy, and this slow approach to negotiations is developing into a major problem.
  7. As part of its Law Pod UK series, 1 Crown Office Row has produced an episode outlining the legal milestones to Brexit.
  8. The UK is reportedly seeking a special ‘good faith’ provision in its Brexit transition deal, amid fears that the EU may otherwise exploit its position to impose deliberately harmful rules on the UK.
  9. The European Council has published the agenda highlights for its General Affairs Council meeting for next week at which EU27 ministers are expected to adopt a new set of negotiating directives for the Brexit negotiations, giving details of the position on the transition period. Channel 4 has reportedly seen a document setting out the EU’s negotiating guidelines for the Brexit transition.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. The Financial Times has considered what the EU will look like after Brexit in terms of growth, exports and unemployment. Philip Hammond has stated the Brexit is causing economic confidence to suffer, whilst knocking down demands from Boris Johnson for a ‘Brexit dividend’ for the NHS.
  2. CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn has given a speech arguing that a comprehensive customs union, after transition, is a ‘practical, real-world answer’ that could help resolve some of the complex issues raised by the UK’s Exit from the EU. However, this stance has been criticised as ‘nonsense’ by Boris Johnson. Mark Carney has stated that the ‘deeper the relationship’ with Europe, the better for the economy. Meanwhile the Financial Times has considered three ways Theresa May could unlock an EU trade deal.
  3. For the Centre for European Reform, Sam Lowe has argued that, though the UK is currently considering ‘managed divergence’ from EU rules, the EU27 will reject this, and the UK would be better to remain in the customs union and Single Market for goods. However, the Financial Times reports that David Davis has changed his mind on the value of the customs union, now stating that the UK must leave it.
  4. Theresa May has been accused of leaving the City of London ‘in the dark’ after the Government admitted a long-expected paper setting out its trade goals for financial services after Brexit may never be published. Chair of the Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan MP has criticised this. Meanwhile, according to CBI research, a majority of UK companies are gearing up for a no-deal Brexit, as time runs out for the Government to provide clarity on a transition period with the EU post-March 2019, or the shape of a future trade deal. AFME has published a report considering the key cliff edge risks of Brexit in wholesale financial services.
  5. Writing in The Times, Liam Fox has argued that 90% of future global economy growth is to be outside the EU, and Brexit means Britain can benefit from this. However the Department for International Trade has been accused of falling behind on its tight schedule and risking the future of British business in a critical report by the National Audit Office, Whitehall’s spending watchdog.
  6. The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published a report on the potential impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market.
  7. The European Commission has published a notice to stakeholders considering Brexit and EU rules in the field of industrial products.
  8. Charles Li, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, has stated that Brexit has stalled plans for an exchange tie-up between Hong Kong and London as the European regulator has dragged its feet on approving the deal.
  9. Danish Minister of Finance Kristian Jenson has stated that he is determined that the UK’s imminent EU exit will not mean Denmark has to pay more to the bloc.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

The Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee has published written evidence submitted by barristers Rhodri Thompson QC, Christopher Brown, Nicholas Gibson and Anita Davies in its inquiry on the impact of Brexit on UK competition policy.

Health

The European Commission has published a notice to stakeholders considering the impact of the UK withdrawal and EU rules in the field of substances of human origin (blood, tissues and cells, and organs).

The Commission has also published a notice to marketing authorisation holders of centrally authorised medicinal products for human and veterinary use.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, has admitted that the supply of EU cancer drugs to the UK could be disrupted if Brexit talks break down.

Immigration

Brugel has published a discussion entitled People on the move: migration and mobility in the European Union.

According to Thomas Roulet for the LSE Politics and Policy blog has published a discussion of how EU citizens in Britain are already being stigmatized, and argues that it’s likely to get worse.

Under proposals reportedly being discussed at the European Commission, Brussels could seek the moral high ground by covering the application costs of EU nationals seeking settled status in the UK after Brexit.

Guy Verhofstadt claims UK will not be able to fully take back control of its borders until 2021 at the earliest.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

Jonathan Cooper OBE has written a piece for The Guardian discussing the specific threat posed to LGBT rights by Brexit.

Environment

The Times reports on the launch of Theresa May’s post-Brexit environmental plan, warning that Brexit us unlikely to boost the environment, and clarity is required on how EU green regulations will be replicated.

A coalition of leading environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth and the National Trust, has said there is a “significant risk” that British environmental protections will be reduced after Brexit, despite the government’s positive rhetoric.