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Brexit round-up – 10/01/20

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.

Australia rules out visa-free travel deal post-Brexit

Australia’s trade minister, Simon Birmingham, has ruled out a post-Brexit trade deal involving visa-free travel and work arrangements with the UK. Currently Australians can visit the UK for less than six months without a visa but British tourists need one to enter Australia. UK international trade secretary, Liz Truss, suggested in September that there would be a deal to allow British citizens to live and work in the country visa-free however Mr Birmingham said he “can’t imagine full and unfettered free movement” would be on the table during negotiations however he said he expected possible tweaks to existing immigration rules to allow “more flexibility.”

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Trade deal by the end of 2020 “impossible” says von der Leyen

Once the UK leaves the EU on 31 January it will enter into an 11 month transition period in which time the UK and the EU will begin talks on their future economic relationship. European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has warned that it would be “impossible” to reach a comprehensive trade deal by the end of 2020 but if the deadline was not extended it was not a case of “all or nothing”. Adding that without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020 “you cannot expect to agree every single aspect of our new partnership”. Boris Johnson, on the other hand, has insisted a deal is possible by December 2020 and has said that the negotiation process would not be extended.

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MPs approve Withdrawal Agreement Bill

After the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passed its first stage in late December, it entered the second stage of the parliamentary process known as the committee stage this week whereby it was analysed in detail for 3 days by MPs.  MPs have now given their final backing to the bill voting 330 (all of which were Conservative) to 231 in favour and it will now pass to the House of Lords for further scrutiny next week.  If peers choose to amend it then it will come back before the MPs in the House of Commons.  The latest vote gives approval to the 11-month transition period after 31 January, in which the UK will cease to be an EU member but will continue to follow its rules and contribute to its budget.  Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said he is “confident” the UK will be able to negotiate a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year in line with the transition period, however the timescale is being criticised as being too tight.

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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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