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Brexit round-up – 06/03/20

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.

UK-EU trade talks begin

On Monday trade talks began between the UK and the EU with David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, arriving in Brussels to lead the talks on behalf of the UK.  Boris Johnson has said that a deal must be struck before the end of the transition period which ends at the end of the year and he wants a free trade deal with the EU with separate agreements relating to areas such as fishing.  However the EU wants an overarching agreement, covering all aspects of future relations.  Negotiations are to take place once every two or three weeks from now until the summer at least, alternating between Brussels and London.

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Boris promises to “drive a hard bargain” in US trade talks

With talks on a free trade agreement with the US expected to begin later this month, Boris Johnson has said that he will “drive a hard bargain to boost British industry” in negotiations.  International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, said “We will not diminish our food safety standards and we will also not put the NHS on the table, or the price the NHS pays for drugs on the table.  Those are two very clear red lines in our trade deal.”  Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said a bad trade deal with the US would “put working people’s jobs and rights on the line… and it will undermine our vital public services, environment and food standards.”

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British firms exporting fish to the EU will face “some friction”

Environment secretary, George Eustice, has said that after the post-Brexit transition period ends, companies would “probably” need to fill in health and catch certificates when selling into the EU’s market which could cause problems for British firms exporting fish to the EU.  Until the end of the transition period at the end of the year fishing will continue to be governed by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy so fishing fleets of every country will have full access to each other’s waters, excluding the first 12 nautical miles out from the coast.  However, after that period ends an agreement must be reached between the UK and the EU.  The UK wants future access to its fishing waters for EU vessels to be negotiated on a yearly basis however, the EU wants to “uphold” existing access to British waters for vessels from member states, to avoid “economic dislocation” for their fishermen.

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Northern Irish MPs not in Brexit committee

The House of Commons committee that will scrutinize the Brexit talks consists of 21 MPs of which twelve are Conservatives, seven are from the Labour Party and two from the Scottish National Party.   There are no representatives from Northern Ireland.  Sammy Wilson, an MP from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party said the lack of Northern Irish MPs might lead to a lack of scrutiny of the “inconsistencies” in the government’s position when it comes to border checks in the Irish Sea.  The government has been accused of shutting out Northern Irish voices with Mr Wilson saying “This time the government wanted to have its own members in the committee because of the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations and was not prepared to offer up any places.”

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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 during the Brexit process, 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.

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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