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Brexit round-up – 06/09/19

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.

Bid to stop UK Parliament suspension rejected

A legal challenge submitted by businesswoman, Gina Miller against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has been rejected by the High Court. Lord Justice Burnett, when rejecting Ms Miller’s case has advised that she could immediately appeal to the Supreme Court due to the important points of law involved. The appeal is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court on 17 September 2019.

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Boris Johnson announces that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit

As the Prime Minister challenged opposition parties to back his call for a general election on October 15, Mr Johnson announced that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit beyond October 31. During a speech to a police force in Yorkshire this week, he pledged to recruit 20,000 more police officers nationally, Mr Johnson called an extension to Brexit as “pointless”. He highlighted that an extension to the deadline costs “a billions pounds a month” yet achieves “absolutely nothing”.

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Lords agree to push through bill preventing no-deal Brexit by end of Friday

The House of Lords agreed to progress a backbench bill seeking to block a no-deal Brexit, as Boris Johnson prepared to make a speech calling for Labour to allow a general election. At about 1.30am on Thursday, following hours of debate, peers were told that the cross-party bill, tabled by Labour’s Hilary Benn, would be returned to the lower house by 5pm on Friday, ruling out the prospect of a filibuster. Boris Johnson is expected to refuse to abide by the Benn bill, which would mandate him to seek an extension to Brexit until at least 31 January if, by the end of next month’s crucial European council summit, he has not secured a deal or gained MPs’ consent for no deal.

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Pound surges as Boris Johnson loses control of Brexit

Sterling posted its biggest increases in six months on Wednesday morning after Parliament voted to block the Prime Minister taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. The currency hit $1.2347, its strongest value in a week, just before 11.20am UK time on Thursday. That followed an overnight surge of 1.4 per cent, its biggest one-day jump since March. City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta suggest that this is “what the market was hoping for”.

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EU could declare no-deal Brexit a major natural disaster

The EU is considering whether to categorise a no-deal Brexit as a major natural disaster akin to flooding, fires or earthquakes, a move that would release emergency funds to the member states most affected. The plan would allow EU officials to distribute cash from the bloc’s solidarity fund. About €500m (£450m) can be accessed every year but unspent cash from the previous year is also available if required. The Irish government has already been promised extra cash if the UK crashes out without a deal and other countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Spain may receive extra cash as they will also face severe challenges in the parts of their economy most reliant on British trade.

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Boris Johnson’s brother quits over Brexit in fresh blow to PM

Jo Johnson, who was MP for Orpington in Kent tweeted that he would stand down amongst a spate of conservative resignations. Andrea Leadsom, Business Secretary and  Caroline Spelman, former Conservative party chair have both said they will stand down at the next election. The timings of the announcement are a significant blow to Boris Johnson’s authority.

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Banks warn Sajid Javid over SME readiness for no-deal Brexit

Senior bankers, including the bosses of major UK lenders including HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays have told Sajid Javid that whilst they had made the necessary contingency plans in case the UK leaves the European Union’s without a deal next month, many of their SME clients had not.

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“Get Ready for Brexit” Campaign launches

The Government have launched an information campaign urging the public to “get ready for Brexit”. The campaign began with the launch of the website with billboards, TV adverts and social media posts to be rolled out in the near future. Michael Gove, has stated that the adverts encourage “shared responsibility” for preparing to leave the EU on 31 October 2019. Reports suggest that the campaign could cost as much as £100 million as ministers seek to inform the public of what they might need to do (if anything) ahead of the deadline.

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No alternative to backstop until withdrawal deal ratified 

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has stated that he’s not optimistic about avoiding a no-deal outcome. The EU are prepared to start looking for “alternative arrangements that achieve the same objectives as the backstop”, but only during the transition period following Brexit. In contrast, Boris Johnson has called for the backstop to be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement altogether. If implemented, the backstop would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market should the UK and EU be unable to agree a trade deal after Brexit.

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Brexit talks between UK and EU step up to twice a week

With just two months to go until the October 31 deadline, Downing Street have announced that Brexit talks with the EU will take place twice a week. The Prime Minister has stated that this boost in activity is part of his “energetic and determined” approach to scrapping the controversial Northern Irish Backstop. The two sides have agreed to discuss a number of issues at future meetings but a European Commission spokesman stated that the EU expects the UK to come forward with concrete proposals.

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Tony Blair advises that a pre-Brexit election is “an elephant trap”

The former Prime Minister has warned Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn that having a general election prior to Brexit would be “an elephant trap”. Mr Blair spoke at an event hosted by the Institute for Government this week and stated that the “brutally clear” challenge in an election is that the opposition vote would be split and “under our system, that delivers a comfortable Tory majority.”

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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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