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Brexit weekly round up – Week commencing 8 January 2018

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

Brexit and the UK constitution

  1. Theresa May is considering appointing up to twelve new Conservative peers to the House of Lords as the Government braces itself to push the EU (Withdrawal) Bill through the Lords.
  2. According to the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee will not recommend consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill in its current form. The Scottish Government has reportedly begun preparations to introduce an EU Continuity Bill to prepare Scotland’s laws for Brexit.
  3. In a response to the European Scrutiny Committee’s letter on the disapplication of primary legislation by the courts under the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, Theresa May has reiterated that where a conflict arises between two pre-exit laws, one of which is retained EU law and the other not, and if the retained EU law could have taken precedence over the other before exit, then it will continue to do so.
  4. According to NatCen research, Scottish voters want decisions about issues that are already devolved, such as fishing and farming, to be made in post Brexit Scotland by the Scottish Government – but would like to keep the same rules as the rest of the UK on reserved issues such as trade and immigration.

The UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU

  1. Meeting Michel Barnier, UKIP MEP Nigel Farage has sought to cast himself as the voice of the 17.4 million leave voters, stating that immigration was the main factor driving the vote.
  2. The Telegraph reported Theresa May was to create a ‘No Deal’ Brexit minister as part of her reshuffle, tipped to be Steve Baker, giving him a budget and attendance at Cabinet to lend credence to the idea that she really will walk away from the negotiations if she doesn’t get the deal she wants. David Davis has reportedly consulted lawyers over the EU’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit, claiming Brussels’ planning is harming British businesses and breaching the UK’s rights as a member state. However, this leaked letter claiming that the EU is discriminating against the UK through its preparations has been met with flat denials and accusations of hypocrisy in Brussels.
  3. For the UK in a Changing Europe, John Speed and Stephen McCarthy have argued that the UK should forget transition and extend the Article 50 notice period instead. EU ambassadors have begun to discuss the possibility and price of a longer Brexit transition period, considering whether to make the possibility explicit in instructions to Michel Barnier.
  4. Philip Hammond is to argue for a deep post-Brexit economic partnership between Britain and the EU, and warn the EU against punishing the UK in negotiations when he addresses Germany’s business community. Meanwhile David Davis is to meet senior industry bosses in Munich to try to mobilise German business to lobby for a deal that maintains close economic ties.
  5. According to an article by Shakuntala Banaji and Sam Mejias for the LSE Brexit Blog, young people are highly critical of Brexit and fear the insularity it could bring.
  6. In a speech at the Trends Manager of the Year 2017 event, Michel Barnier gave a speech considering the future relationship with the UK.
  7. Nigel Farage has backed the idea of a “second referendum” on Brexit as he thinks the outcome will be the same and therefore this would settle the matter for a generation and ‘kill off the issue’. However according to the ComRes survey, if there were a second referendum, 55% would vote to remain in the EU, 45% to leave.

Impact of Brexit on the economy

  1. A cross-party group of 20 MEPs has urged May to stay in the Single Market, arguing that leaving it would leave the UK poorer.
  2. Jean-Claude Juncker has dismissed the idea that the UK has changed its mind on Brexit and urged the remaining 27 EU member states to agree to pay more to fill the soon-to-be €13bn (£11.5bn) annual hole in its budget.
  3. According to new research by the ICAEW, the same external and internal political, economic and market challenges remain for businesses for next year as they did for 2017 and despite improved global conditions, uncertainty about the UK’s relationship with the EU continues to be the biggest concern for business.
  4. Brussels has warned companies including drugmakers and airlines that they cannot expect automatic access to the single market in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  5. According to Bank of England research, Remain voters are more likely to give a pessimistic view of the economic outlook and their personal financial circumstances after the Brexit vote than before, whilst Leave voters were more optimistic.
  6. Under plans being considered by countries including Germany, British financial firms will be allowed privileged access to EU markets in return for payments to Brussels.
  7. According to The Times, for the business world which plans a year in advance, understanding what the legal framework will look like post-March 2019 is crucial to commercial calculations.
  8. According to an economic forecast commissioned by Sadiq Khan, a no-deal Brexit could cause the UK to lose half a million jobs and nearly £50bn in investment by 2030.
  9. In a report by the Greater London Authority, Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that a ‘no deal’ hard Brexit could lead to a ‘lost decade’ of significantly lower growth, whilst showing that London could suffer less than the rest of the countries, increasing geographical inequalities.
  10. In her first formal meeting with City bosses, Theresa May has promised to prioritise financial services in the Brexit deal.

Brexit as it affects Practice Areas:

Competition and Regulatory

The written evidence of Professor Michael Waterson to the Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee in the inquiry on the impact of Brexit on UK competition policy has been published.

Data Protection

The European Commission has published a notice to stakeholders concerning the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc and EU rules in the field of data protection.

Employment

TUC has urged Theresa May to defend workers’ rights after Brexit, with Frances O’Grady fearing that protections could be weakened.

Health

The Financial Times reports that Britain is pushing to remain under EU regulation for medicines post-Brexit.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority has published Brexit Guidance for stakeholders for human and veterinary medicines.

Immigration

The number of Britons applying for French citizenship has risen tenfold in three years, with many applicants motivated by considerations such as avoiding queues at airports, the Channel tunnel and Eurostar terminals or a desire to secure rights to healthcare and social benefits after the UK leaves the EU.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

Rights Info has argued that Brexit custom laws which are being debated in the Commons could allow ministers to water down or repeal equality laws. Nicky Morgan MP has written a letter to HMRC regarding this.

Environment

According to the UN, the British Government may have breached a major “environmental democracy” law by failing to consult the public when drawing up the EU (Withdrawal) Bill legislation.