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Brexit round-up – 05/04/19

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.

Prime Minister calls for further Brexit postponement

Theresa May has written to the President of the European Council asking for a further extension to Article 50, which would mean that the UK would not depart from the European Union until 30 June 2019.  Importantly, Mrs May’s letter explained that she “accepts the European Council’s view that if the United Kingdom were still a member state of the European Union on 23 May 2019, it would be under a legal obligation to hold European elections”, whilst also recognising that such preparations could be called off if the UK were to exit prior to the elections.

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Prime Minister opens talks with Labour leader

Wednesday 3 April was the first day of talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, aimed at finding a solution to the Brexit deadlock. It was reportedly a “constructive” discussion, although criticised by MPs on both sides. Theresa May defended her approach on holding talks with the opposition, saying that the public “expect us to reach across this House to find a way through this”. The Prime Minister is seeking to agree a policy with Mr Corbyn and get MPs to vote on it before 10 April, the day of the EU’s emergency summit on Brexit and just two days before the current exit date. If the deal is not reached, Mrs May said she will ask MPs to vote on a number of different options, including her deal.

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MPs support Brexit delay bill

On 3 April 2019, MPs voted by a majority of one vote in favour of the European Union (No. 5) Bill 2017-19, presented by Yvette Cooper, which creates a legal mechanism whereby the House of Commons can instruct the Prime Minister to ask the European Council for an extension to Article 50, in the absence of an approval resolution for an exit deal from the EU. The Bill will now go to the House of Lords, who also need to approve it (and will get an opportunity to amend it) for it to become law. Nevertheless, whether an extension is granted depends on approval by the EU.

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MPs reject all Brexit options

On 1 April 2019, the second stage of the indicative vote process took place, when the House of Commons debated and voted on options for alternative ways forward relating to the UK’s withdrawal from, and future relationship with, the EU. This followed an initial sounding of views on 27 March 2019. None of the four motions selected by the Speaker on 1 April carried a majority: Customs union: 273 for and 276 against; Common market 2.0: 261 for and 282 against; Confirmatory public vote: 280 for and 292 against; and Parliamentary supremacy: 191 for and 292 against.

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Defra shares Brexit guidance for food, drink and farming sector stakeholders

Defra’s Agri-Food Chain Stakeholder Engagement team have shared seven key food, drink and agriculture related Government communications that have been released in recent days and weeks: (1) how to import organic produce if the UK leaves the EU with no deal; (2) food and drink sector link to EU Exit assets; (3) nutrition and health claims if there is no deal; (4) vitamins and minerals in foods if there is no deal; (5) VAT on goods you move from Ireland to Northern Ireland if there is no deal; (6) Customs procedures for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland if there is no deal; and (7) UK signs trade continuity agreement with Caribbean countries.

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EU Settlement Scheme receives 50,000 applications on opening weekend

On 30 March 2019, the EU Settlement Scheme was launched, following both private and public funding testing of the application process which began in August 2018. Since opening, over 50,000 further applications have been received. This brings the total number of applications to over 280,000 (some 230,000 applications were received in the testing phase). While the app is currently available on Android devices, the Home Secretary has confirmed it will also be available on Apple devices later this year. There will also be over 50 locations where applicants can have their passport scanned and verified. Deal or no deal, EU citizens will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.

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UK, Norway and Iceland sign trade continuity agreement

The UK has signed a new trade continuity agreement with Norway and Iceland. The agreement covers trade in goods and will only be used in a no deal scenario. It maintains the same level of tariffs on goods traded between the UK, Iceland and Norway. Consumers and businesses in the UK will continue to benefit from more choice and lower prices on goods imported from Iceland and Norway, such as aluminium products and some fuel and oil products. Martyn Boyers, Chief Executive of Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises Limited, said: “This trade deal is extremely welcome, in fact vital, as 70% of the fish consumed in the UK is imported, most of that supply coming from Iceland and Norway.”

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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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