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Brexit round-up – 08/02/19

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.

Suggestions of further Brexit delays

Despite Theresa May having returned to Europe to attempt to achieve a deal that would appease the disagreement in parliament, it is thought that any renegotiated deal may not be put to MPs until late March. Consequently, in that situation it is likely that an extension to the Article 50 period will be required. In relation to this, one European representative explained: “If the British asks for an extension of two or three months and there are reasons for that, I think there’s a good chance that the member states would accept that unanimously”.

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Prime Minister defends Brexit strategy

Speaking from Belfast on 5 February 2019, Theresa May reaffirmed her “unshakable” commitment to avoid a hard border in Ireland and to not remove the backstop from her Brexit deal. She further added that: “If the future relationship is not in place by the end of the implementation period, there will be arrangements to ensure no hard border.” Mrs May’s visit to Belfast follows the House of Commons vote on 29 January in favour of her seeking “alternative arrangements.” Downing Street said she is looking at three options for changes to the backstop: finding alternative arrangements, imposing a time limit or adding an exit clause.

For more information, please click here and here.

MPs discuss ‘alternative arrangements’ to the Irish backstop

On 4 February 2019, the Alternative Arrangements Working Group, with leave and remain MPs, met for the first time after the House of Commons vote on 29 January. A Government spokesperson said the talks had been “detailed and constructive.” The group will hold regular meetings with Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, as well as the senior Government officials from HMRC, Cabinet Office Europe Unit and Number 10. Alternatives to the backstop that Mrs May said she wants to discuss with EU leaders include: (1) “trusted trader” scheme to avoid physical checks on goods flowing through the border; (2) “mutual recognition” of rules with the EU and (3) “technological” solutions.”

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Government issues guidance on food and drink labelling in a ‘no-deal’ scenario

The Government has published updated guidance which confirms that in the event of ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there are some technical changes to food and drink labels that will be required from day one. For products placed on the UK market after 29 March 2019, these changes include: (1) the EU emblem must not be used on goods produced in the UK unless a company has been authorised by the EU to do so; (2) the EU organic logo must not be used on any UK organic products, unless the UK and EU reach an equivalency arrangement – where both still recognise each other’s standards – before exit day; and (3) it will be inaccurate to label UK food as origin ‘EU’.

For more information, please click here.

HM Revenue & Customs announces simplified procedures for customs declarations

HMRC has announced that customs checks at Channel ports will be simplified for at least a year if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. Under ‘transitional simplified procedures’ it will be easier for importers to import goods from the EU using roll on roll off locations such as Dover or the Channel Tunnel. Importers would file a very short customs form, or ‘simplified frontier declaration’, only two hours prior to a lorry crossing the Channel by ferry, or one hour crossing by the Channel Tunnel, without the need to make customs declarations. Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, called the plans a “common sense move.”

For more information, please click here and here.

HMRC publishes letters on ‘no-deal’ Brexit advice

HMRC has written to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses across the UK, including Northern Ireland, which only trade with the EU. The letters, which are published on their website, explain changes to customs, excise and VAT in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and what businesses can do to prepare. HMRC said it will also continue to engage with businesses, representative organisations, intermediaries and infrastructure providers to ensure they have the information and support they need. It also reminds businesses that they can keep up-to-date with these changes by registering for HMRC’s EU Exit update service.

For more information, please click here.

Government guidance looks at CE marking in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario

On 2 February 2019, the Government published guidance for using the UK Conformity Assessment marking if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. In a ‘no-deal’ scenario, the EU will stop recognising the competency of UK-based Notified Bodies to assess products for the EU market.  Therefore, manufacturers using UK-based Notified Bodies to assess products against the requirements of EU law will no longer be able to apply the CE marking. However, the Government intends to reclassify UK Notified Bodies as UK Approved Bodies, which will be eligible to assess products against relevant UK requirements and issue the UK marking to compliant products.

For more information, please click here.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FACO) clarifies sanctions policy in a ‘no-deal’ scenario

On 1 February 2019, the FACO published a technical notice explaining how the UK would implement sanctions if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. At present, the UK is legally required to implement and enforce sanctions regimes agreed by the UN Security Council, and, as a member of the EU. Often known as “restrictive measures” these sanctions impose immigration, trade, financial and transport restrictions. The FACO confirmed that the Government will  look to carry over all EU sanctions through new legislation, in the form of regulations. The new legislation will provide the legal basis for the UK to impose, update and lift sanctions after leaving the EU.

For more information, please click here.

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

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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