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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 4 December 2017

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. In the early part of the week, with the DUP rejecting the first potential deal suggested by the Government over the Irish border, Nicola Sturgeon stated that Scotland must stay in the EU single market if Northern Ireland does. This has been supported by Ruth Davidson. Later in the week, Theresa May struck a Brexit deal with the EU at the final push after all-night talks with the DUP, allowing trade talks to begin within weeks.
  2. The Lords Constitution Committee has examined the implications of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill for Northern Ireland.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. In a BBC interview, Irish deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, hinted that avoiding a hard border in Ireland would ideally be done with the entire UK ‘acting as one’, but that if this is impossible, Britain and the EU would need to recognise the ‘unique’ circumstances in Northern Ireland.
  2. Ireland’s Europe minister, Helen McEntree, stated that, though progress was made, the Irish Government was not immediately ready to approve Brexit talks moving on to the next phase. However, MEPs who saw a draft agreement stated that the UK and EU have committed to ‘continued regulatory alignment’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit. Theresa May had to cancel plans for a major Commons statement on Brexit early in the week after talks in Brussels ended without a deal as the DUP rejected the first potential agreement on the Irish border.
  3. PoliticsHome reported that the initial failure to strike a deal in Brussels was also due to a major disagreement on the role of European judges post Brexit, as the Prime Minister wanted the CJEU to oversee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK for less than five years. A retired senior judge, Sir Richard Aikens, has warned the Prime Minister that a proposed relationship between the UK and the CJEU “obliterates the red line that must not be crossed” concerning post-Brexit legal powers.
  4. Tony Blair has confirmed that he is working to reverse Brexit, arguing that claims made by the leave campaign have now clearly been shown to be untrue, and therefore that British voters deserve second referendum.
  5. The Communities and Local Government Committee has begun its inquiry into the impact on local government of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the role councils could play post-Brexit.
  6. David Davis told MPs that the Government is seeking UK-wide “regulatory alignment” after Brexit, though the DUP said it had rejected the idea as proposed in Irish border negotiating text on Monday. Meanwhile Labour has branded the approach of the Government as an ‘embarrassment’ and Keir Starmer has urged against the fixed Brexit date of 29th March 2019.
  7. Theresa May faced mounting pressure to secure a breakthrough in EU negotiations after the Democratic Unionist party expressed shock at the handling of the Irish border question and Brexit-supporting Conservatives said the time had come to walk away. According to the Irish Prime Minister, Theresa May intended to make a fresh offer to the EU on the Irish border, whilst Michel Barnier told member states there is a strict deadline this week for the British Government to agree a text on a potential deal or it will face being told that negotiations will not move on to the next stage.
  8. PoliticsHome reported that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove could lead a revolt against Theresa May, amid fears of Eurosceptics that she is attempting to deliver a soft Brexit. However, more than a dozen Tory MPs supporting a soft Brexit have now written to Theresa May urging her to ignore those within the party trying to ‘impose their own conditions’ on Brexit talks. Meanwhile Politico has broken down the proposed draft agreement which was circulated amongst UK officials.
  9. Theresa May struck a Brexit deal with the EU at the final push after all-night talks with the DUP, allowing trade talks to begin within weeks. However, Theresa May failed to get the EU to agree that Britain will retain a voice at the CJEU in return for her concession that the Luxembourg court will retain a role in protecting citizens’ rights in the UK after
  10. The Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has launched a new inquiry on the question of enforcement and dispute resolution post-Brexit. Meanwhile justice minister, Dominic Raab, has suggested that post-Brexit disputes will be solved in a new tribunal.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. Forbes has reported on the Bircham Dyson Bell survey which has found that two-thirds of Tory MPs think that a hard Brexit would boost British entrepreneurs.
  2. David Davis has told MPs that the Government has not carried out an impact assessment of leaving the EU on the UK economy, and avoided being censured for alleged contempt. Meanwhile MPs have condemned the ‘ridiculous’ level of security around the Brexit impact reports, claiming that the majority of their content is already in the public domain.
  3. The executive director of the European Securities and Markets Authority, Verena Ross, delivered a speech at the ICI Global 2017 Capital Markets Conference, in which she discussed ESMA’s supervisory convergence work on Brexit. Meanwhile IP specialists have warned that British businesses with EU-registered trademarks could lose their protection post-Brexit, losing up to £1.7bn in fees, unless ministers take urgent action.
  4. The Times Brief discusses a Bar Council Brexit working group report which has stated that “UK withdrawal from the EU does not form a legal or logical bar to continued memberships of either or both” of the internal market or customs union.
  5. The Commons Public Accounts Committee has stated that Government assumptions about behaviour are risky, and ministers have failed to prepare for new border controls under the assumption that the UK will strike a comprehensive free trade agreement and transition period by March 2019. Meanwhile the Lords EU Committee have published a report outlining the potential impact on the UK of leaving the EU without a deal.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Criminal

The Government has responded to the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee report on Brexit – judicial oversight of the European Arrest Warrant, stating that it is ‘unconditionally’ committed to maintaining Europe’s security now and post-Brexit.

Data Protection

UK Finance and techUK have called for a post-Brexit deal on data protection in an article arguing that rapid action is needed to safeguard UK and EU businesses and consumers following Britain’s exit from the bloc.

Health

An article in The Lancet evaluates three possible scenarios of how Brexit may affect health and health services in the UK.

In the BMJ opinion blog, Martin McKee has considered why retaining the European Health Insurance Card may be impossible following Brexit.

The Government has published a command paper responding to the Commons Health Committee report on ‘Brexit and health and social care: people and process’.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has heard evidence that pharmaceutical companies are spending millions to mitigate Brexit uncertainty.

Immigration

Research groups have suggested that immigration targets post-Brexit could create labour shortages in key sectors, including in laboratories.

The Home Builders Federation has reportedly stated that one in six builders are from the EU, calling for a permit system for skilled workers post-Brexit in order to build more homes and ease the housing crisis.

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice has published a report on an immigration strategy for the UK, considering six proposals to manage migration for economic success.

The Government published three papers on the status of UK citizens in the EU, status of EU citizens in the UK, and case study examples.

Environment

There has been discussion in The Conversation as to what Brexit will mean for the climate, with the outlook rather pessimistic.