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Brexit round-up – 04/03/19

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.

Government to pay £33 million to Eurotunnel

The Government has settled an ongoing dispute regarding freight capacity after reaching an agreement worth up to £33 million with Eurotunnel, which was suing the Government after it awarded a contract to Seaborne Freight, which owns no ships and has never run a Channel service. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been heavily criticised for the Seaborne deal, which would have been worth £13.8 million. In a statement accompanying the agreement, Mr Grayling said: “While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”

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Environment Minister resigns over Brexit delay vote

On 1 March 2019, Environment Minister George Eustice resigned from the Government due to Theresa May’s promise to allow MPs a vote on delaying Brexit, if her deal is rejected. Mr Eustice is a longstanding Brexiteer, who stood as a UKIP MEP candidate before joining the Conservatives. Mr Eustice said it would be “dangerous” to go to the EU “cap in hand at the 11th hour and beg for an extension.” He feared it could mean a long delay or that Brexit “may never happen at all” and said the UK must be prepared to walk away without a deal.

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House of Commons (HoC) reject Labour’s Brexit proposals

On 27 February 2019, MPs voted on their preferred Brexit strategy. Labour’s Brexit proposals, which would see the UK entering into a permanent customs union with the EU, were defeated by 323 to 240. In response to the votes, Jeremy Corbyn said: “We will back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome.” MPs also voted against the SNP motion saying the UK should not leave the EU without a deal “under any circumstances.” The Prime Minister also faced a Brexit rebellion, after 20 Tory MPs voted against proposals, backed by the Government, to delay the UK’s 29 March departure date, if there is a no-deal scenario.

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Agreement secures £1.3 trillion market for British contractors

On 27 February 2019, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members confirmed that the UK will join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as an independent member if we leave the EU without an agreement. The GPA is an agreement within the WTO framework between its 19 members, including major economies such as the United States, Canada, the EU and Japan. Overseas businesses will be able to bid for £67 billion worth of public sector contracts in the UK every year. In return, British suppliers will be able to bid for £1.3 trillion worth of Government contracts overseas in a wide range of sectors from large infrastructure to professional and business services.

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Prime Minister offers votes to MPs on no-deal Brexit and Article 50 extension

On 26 February 2019, the Prime Minister gave a statement to the House of Commons in which she made a commitment to hold a second meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by 12 March 2019. If that vote is lost, MPs will be offered two separate votes: One, on the following day, on whether MPs support a no-deal Brexit, so the UK would “only leave without a deal on 29 March if there is explicit consent in the House for that outcome.” If that fails, then MPs will get a vote by 14 March on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process, to delay EU withdrawal beyond 29 March.

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Government publishes report on the impact of a no-deal Brexit

On 26 February 2019, the Government published its assessment of the implications of a no-deal exit for trade and for businesses, given the preparations that have been made. The Government’s report, which was drawn up for the cabinet, said: “One of the most visible ways in which the UK would be affected by delays in goods crossing the Channel is our food supply, 30% of which comes from the EU.” It also said the worst-hit areas economically in a no-deal scenario would be Wales (-8.1%), Scotland (-8.0%), Northern Ireland (-9.1%) and the North East (-10.5%).

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Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) provides update on medical products supply after Brexit

On 25 January 2019, the DHSC confirmed that it is working on detailed plans to ensure the continued supply of medical products to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Around three-quarters of the medicines and over half of the clinical consumables we use come from or via the EU.  The DHSC has analysed, amongst other areas, the supply chains of 12,300 medicines and almost half a million product lines of medical devices and clinical consumables. Following this analysis, it has put in place a multi-layered approach to minimise any supply disruption, by securing freight, buffer stocks, stockpiling and warehousing, and regulatory flexibility which will help to ensure the continuation of medical supplies.

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EU trade remedies measures to continue post-Brexit

On 25 February 2019, the Department for International Trade (DIT) set out the current EU trade remedy measures the UK will transition when the UK leaves the European Union. In total, 43 trade remedies measures that currently apply to imports from outside the EU will be transitioned into UK law after Brexit. The DIT confirmed that British businesses will continue to be protected from cheap imports that are deemed to have been traded unfairly such as: (1) tyres and aluminium wheels from China; (2) ceramic tiles, tableware and kitchenware from China; and (3) a range of steel and iron products from countries including Belarus, Brazil, China, Iran, Russia and the USA.

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We have created a Brexit checklist to assist businesses with the various challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit. Please click here to view.

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.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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