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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 29 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 Lords Constitution Select Committee has stated that the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is fundamentally flawed and needs to be rewritten as it currently risks ‘undermining legal certainty’. The peers have stated that the bill is ‘constitutionally unacceptable’. The Bill, and the Lords’ reaction, has been considered by the UK Human Rights Blog and by Bircham Dyson Bell on their Great Repeal Bill Blog.
  2. The House of Lords has debated the key purposes and principles of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill during its second reading and the House of Lords Library has published a briefing on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill for the Lords stages.
  3. Ireland’s Supreme Court has declined to extradite a company director wanted for fraud to London because by the time he finishes his prison sentence the UK will have left the EU. This is reported in The Guardian.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. According to The Guardian, the EU is to warn the British Government not to ignore the unfinished business of the EU divorce if it wants to secure a Brexit trade and transition deal. The FT reports that the EU has warned Britain that it faces gridlock in trade talks unless it spells out its Brexit goals. The Council (art 50) has adopted negotiating directives on the transition period. Slides published by the European Commission for the Council Working Party, show that the EU intends to bind Brexit Britain to Europe’s economic model, from tax policy and state aid control to the employment rights of factory workers.
  2. According to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Boris Johnson is failing to organise his own Whitehall department for Brexit and sending out mixed messages about the role of the Foreign Office in the UK withdrawal negotiations.
  3. Theresa May is reportedly under growing pressure from both wings of her own party to offer more clarity in public about what Brexit deal Britain wants, or face the mounting risk of a no-confidence vote. Meanwhile senior minister Claire Perry has criticised Brexiteers who attacked the Government over ‘selling out’ over the £39bn divorce bill, calling them ‘swivel-eyed’. However David Lidington has urged the Conservatives  to “come together in a spirit of mutual respect” as senior Tories continue to air their differences over Brexit.
  4. Jeremy Corbyn has reportedly called key members of his shadow cabinet to an “away day” to re-examine the party’s policy and strategy on Brexit amid growing frustration in Labour ranks that it is failing to exploit mounting Tory turmoil over Europe. A group of Labour MPs and MEPs, academics and trade unionists have called on the Labour leader to stop hiding behind what they call “left-wing myths” surrounding membership of the European Single Market membership after Brexit, regarding provision of state aid and re-nationalisation, and instead argue openly about the issue. Ahead of the meeting with his team, Mr Corbyn has dismissed calls for a second referendum/referendum on the terms of the deal.
  5. The Financial Times reports that Britain is seeking powers to vet new EU laws agreed by the rest of the bloc during the transition period after Brexit, in a demand that risks setting the UK on a collision course with Brussels.
  6. Fabian Picardo has stated that Gibraltar can veto parts of any Brexit deal if it doesn’t like them, as a clause in its constitution gives it the right to choose its own terms for matters such as trade tariffs and regulations.
  7. The main groups opposed to a hard Brexit are joining forces under the leadership of Chuka Umunna to push for the public’s voice to be heard on Theresa May’s final deal to leave the EU.
  8. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is to visit Downing Street next week to kickstart negotiations over the terms of the transition period.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. In an open letter to businesses, Philip Hammond, David Davis and Greg Clark have set out the business transition plans, stating that Britain will maintain continuity with EU rules during the post-Brexit transition period.
  2. According to a leaked Cabinet report, seen by BuzzFeed, Brexit would leave the UK worse off under three possible scenarios: a comprehensive free trade deal, single market access and no deal at all. Theresa May has pledged that MPs will see this economic impact assessment before they vote on the final Brexit deal. Meanwhile, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell has written to David Davis to say the Scottish Government will release the analysis if it receives it.
  3. The EU is reportedly threatening sanctions to stop Britain undercutting the continent’s economy post-Brexit, including ‘tax blacklists’ and penalties against state-subsidised companies. However this is reportedly due to the EU being nervous about the UK becoming a low-tax, low-regulation haven. The EU has also rejected a Brexit trade deal for the UK financial services sector.
  4. According to the Financial Times, Theresa May’s Brexit advisers are secretly considering whether Britain could strike a customs union deal covering trade in goods with the EU, a move that would limit the UK’s ability to strike out on its own. However Theresa May is coming under increasing pressure to set out where she stands on Britain’s future trade agreements, particularly as the Cabinet appears split.
  5. A group of Labour MPs and MEPs, academics and trade unionists have called on Jeremy Corbyn to stop hiding behind what they call leftwing myths surrounding membership of the European Single Market membership after Brexit, regarding provision of state aid and re-nationalisation, and instead argue openly about the issue.
  6. The Home Affairs Committee has published the Government Response to its report on Home Office delivery of Brexit: customs operations.
  7. The Creative Industries Federation has published a Global Trade Report considering how to maximise the UK’s global ambition and potential through its creative industries.
  8. Research by the CBI has found that optimism in the financial services sector fell for the third consecutive quarter in 2017 in the three months to December, with nine in ten firms seeing Brexit as the most serious threat to the UK’s status as financial centre.
  9. Leading solicitors have warned that relying on a Canada-style trade deal with the EU after Brexit will leave the UK’s lawyers in the cold.
  10. The Dutch Government has called on Michael Gove to provide a clear vision for the European fishing industry for when the UK leaves the EU’s common fisheries policy, amid growing insecurity in communities on both sides of the Channel.
  11. Giving evidence to the Lords’ Economic Affairs select committee, Mark Carney has told MPs that he hopes for a rise in British business investment next year once Brexit uncertainties are resolved.
  12. The European Patent Office and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys have confirmed that Brexit will have no consequence on UK membership of the European Patent Organisation, nor on the effect of European patents in the UK.
  13. Carwyn Jones, first minister of Wales, has warned that a hard Brexit and a deal with China would wipe out the Welsh steel industry.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

The House of Lords EU Select Committee has published a report considering the implications of Brexit for competition and state aid.

Health

A coalition of doctors, NHS bosses and pharmaceutical firms has warned that patients could face long delays obtaining new drugs or be denied access to them altogether as a result of Brexit.

This warning comes in the briefing published by the Brexit Health Alliance.

Immigration

The EU Rights Clinic has called for further protection of citizens’ rights in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations in a letter to Donald Tusk.

Policy Exchange has published a paper arguing that a post-Brexit immigration system should clamp down on low-skilled EU immigration but adopt a lighter touch for students and professionals.

Theresa May is to challenge Brussels over the view that nationals from the bloc arriving in the UK during the transition period should be given full citizens’ rights including the right to remain indefinitely.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report on the implications of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill for human rights.

Sport

The Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee has launched an inquiry into the movement of people in the fields of sport and culture after Brexit.

Environment

The Lords EU select committee has published a report considering the impact of Brexit on energy security.

The UKELA has published a report on the UK and European environmental cooperation after Brexit.