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Brexit round-up – 20/09/19

Welcome to this, our latest Brexit round-up. Each week we provide a succinct round-up of the latest news surrounding the Brexit process, so you can keep abreast of the issues which are likely to affect your organisation.

Supreme Court to give ruling over Parliament suspension next week

The Supreme Court has this week heard two appeals against the decision of the Prime Minister to suspend Parliament.  The first by the government following a Scottish court ruling that the decision was unlawful and the second from campaigner Gina Miller’s team.  The court has to decide whether Boris Johnson acted lawfully in suspending Parliament which it is argued was in order to stop Parliament preventing a no-deal Brexit.  Lady Hale brought the hearing to a close on Thursday afternoon and said that the court’s decision will be published next week.  Documents submitted for the government outlined options if it loses the case.  One suggested that the judges might rule suspending Parliament was unlawful, but leave open an option to prorogue it for the same period in a lawful way.  Two further options were also outlined, the first that the court could find that suspension was unlawful and that recalling Parliament before 14 October was the “only option lawfully open to the prime minister.”  In this scenario, the document says Mr Johnson would comply, but that the court could also make a “mandatory order.”  But it said there would be “very serious practical consequences”, because recalling Parliament would require a meeting of the Privy Council and a new Queen’s Speech – where the government sets out its legislative programme.  “Extensive arrangements would have to be made,” it says. The final option considered is that the court could rule the suspension was unlawful, and therefore it was never prorogued and remains in session.  But Mr Johnson’s lawyers say that it may still be open for the Prime Minister to suspend Parliament again, depending on the court’s reasoning.

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EU’s chief negotiator says the UK and EU “should not pretend to be negotiating”

Michal Barnier has said that the UK and the EU should not say they are trying to negotiate a Brexit deal if there are no new proposals on the table and he expressed his doubts on the UK proposal to give Northern Ireland a future veto over EU rules as this would require all parts of the UK to sign up to the terms of exit.  He has “called on the PM to come forward with operational proposals in writing.”  However, Boris Johnson still believes that a deal is possible saying that there is a “landing zone” for an agreement but insists that if no deal is reached he will not accept a further delay beyond 31 October.

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Finland’s Prime Minister gives 12 days for plans

Finland’s Antti Rinne and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed that the UK need to produce Brexit plans in writing by the end of September, giving Boris Johnson just 12 days to present the plans.  Anitti Rinne said if the plans are not received by that time “then it’s over.”  The UK government said talks with the EU have been making progress and Boris Johnson has said that a deal at the summit of EU leaders on 17 October is possible but confirmed that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal.

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EU receives confidential documents from UK

Following Finland’s Prime Minister giving Boris Johnson 12 days to set out his Brexit plans to the EU it has been confirmed that confidential documents on Brexit have been shared with the EU and the EU has confirmed that technical talks will now take place.  It is expected that talks will take place at a political level on Friday between the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and the technical discussions will focus on rules relating to customs, manufactured goods, sanitary and phytosanitary rules.  In a statement the government said “We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them as a replacement for the backstop.”

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Corbyn maintains neutral stance

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to say which side he might back in a future Brexit referendum under a Labour government instead insisting that he will “deliver [the] option people choose.”  He has said he would offer voters a choice between Remain and a deal negotiated by Labour but refused to confirm whether he would personally support Leave or Remain.  He said “I want the people to have a choice between the offer of remaining in the EU and the offer of an agreement with the EU which will give us a trade relationship, which will give us a customs union, will give us rights, consumer rights, workers rights and environmental standards.  My job, as Prime Minister, will be to deliver that option that is chosen by the British people.”

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Plaid Cymru should campaign to cancel Brexit if a general election is called, says Adam Price

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has said that they should campaign to cancel Brexit if a general election is called and said members will be asked to back the change in policy.  Plaid members will vote on whether to call for the revocation of article 50 at their autumn conference next month.  He has consistently asked for a further referendum in order to break the “Brexit impasse” and noted that if a general election is held before a new EU public vote then “that election, regrettably from our perspective, becomes a proxy referendum.”  He said that there must be a clear Remain option on the ballot paper if a further election goes ahead so that people can be offered the choice.

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Luxembourg Prime Minister calls Brexit process a “nightmare”

Boris Johnson cancelled his press conference with Xavier Bettel blaming EU protesters leaving Mr Bettel to conduct the press conference alone in which he said the “only solution” was the existing withdrawal agreement.  The Prime Minister of Luxembourg also said that the Brexit process has turned into a “nightmare” and attacked Boris Johnson noting that he had failed to put forward any serious plans to allow a deal before the deadline of 31 October.

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Home Secretary says government is focused on reaching Brexit deal

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has said that the “entire machinery of government” is focused on getting a Brexit deal with the EU and that Boris Johnson was “fully committed” to negotiating an agreement.  Boris Johnson said last week that he was “cautiously optimistic” of getting a Brexit deal, but the UK would leave by the deadline “whatever happens.”

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If you have any questions about any of the issues which are raised, or would like to discuss your own organisation’s options in the lead-up to Brexit, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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