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Brexit round-up – 13/12/19

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.

Boris Johnson says he has a mandate to take the UK out of the EU next month “no ifs, no buts”.

Boris Johnson has promised to work “night and day” to repay the trust of voters after he led the Conservatives to an “historic” general election win. He said the Tories’ thumping victory had “smashed the roadblock” in Parliament over Brexit and put an end to the “miserable threats” of another referendum on Europe. He continued: “We will get Brexit done on time by 31 January – no ifs, no buts, not maybe.”

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EU chief negotiator says Brexit unlikely by 2021

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said that Brexit trade negotiations cannot be finished by the end of next year as Boris Johnson has claimed.  In a leaked recording he said that the UK’s timetable of 2021 was “unrealistic” and that negotiations will likely continue until long after the end of next year saying “With regards to this agreement, we will not get everything done in 11 months. We will do all we can – we won’t do it all.”  He said that without a further extension of EU rules “we will still have a few months to achieve what I would describe as the minimum necessary for the economy and security or to prepare for a cliff edge.”  He further noted that if no agreement is reached then Britain could crash out on World Trade Organisation terms saying “Either we have a trade agreement or we will be in the WTO framework. We can’t take contingency measures on trade to give us more time … If there’s no deal, it is a cliff edge for trade.”

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UK trade at risk of being left at the mercy of the EU

Donald Trump has engineered the shutdown of the World Trade Organization’s top court after he refused to approve the appointment or reappointment of any judges, leaving the court unable to function.  This may cause issues for the UK’s post-Brexit trade as, if it leaves the EU on 31 January 2020 and Boris Johnson is elected he has said he will not extend the 11 month transition period to negotiate a free trade deal, meaning failure to reach an agreement within that time would result in the UK trading with the EU on WTO terms from 1 January 2021.  Phil Hogan, the European commissioner for trade, who will oversee the EU’s negotiations with the UK, said “With the appellate body removed from the equation, we have lost an enforceable dispute settlement system that has been an independent guarantor – for large and small economies alike – that the WTO’s rules are applied impartially.”

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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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