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Brexit round-up – 13/09/19

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.

Prime Minister denies lying to Queen over Parliament suspension

Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen over the advice he gave her over the five-week suspension of Parliament. The prime minister was speaking after Scotland’s highest civil court ruled on Wednesday the shutdown was unlawful.

In a unanimous ruling on Wednesday, the Court of Session in Edinburgh said Mr Johnson’s decision to order the suspension was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymieing Parliament”.  However a ruling last week from the High Court in London had dismissed a similar challenge brought by businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller.  In their rejection of her claim, the judges argued the suspension of Parliament was a “purely political” move and was therefore “not a matter for the courts”.

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UK offers Brexit mini-deals to side-step Brussels

Diplomats have alleged that the UK government are attempting to bypass its negotiations with the European Commission by proposing “mini-deals” to national capitals in the EU directly. Many EU capitals have been approached with offers of deals or bilateral arrangements which could better the impact of a no-deal Brexit on both sides. The move is said to have infuriated Commission officials who are concerned that patchwork deals could be more beneficial to the UK than the Withdrawal Agreement which was negotiated by Teresa May last year. A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Exiting the EU has said it is “untrue” that the UK is trying to bypass talks with the Commission.

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MPs demand Parliament be recalled

Following the Court of Session’s ruling that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and No.10 confirming that Parliament would remain prorogued pending the appeal to the Supreme Court, MPs are now demanding that Parliament be recalled.  Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems are all demanding that MPs be recalled as early as Wednesday afternoon and some have returned to Parliament to protest.  They are currently not due to sit again until 14 October when a Queen’s speech is planned for the government to set outs policy agenda.

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Judge in Scotland’s highest court rules Parliament suspension unlawful

A panel of judges at the Court of Session (Scotland’s highest civil court) have ruled in favour of a cross-party group of politicians who were challenging the Prime Minister’s move to suspend Parliament. The decision overturns an earlier ruling from the court, which recently ruled that Mr Johnson was not breaking the law. It does not however immediately affect the current suspension of Parliament, as no order has been given to cancel the suspension before a full hearing at the Supreme Court in London which starts on Tuesday 17th September 2019.

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Prime Minister will deliver Brexit without the backstop

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP has announced that Mr Johnson has advised her that he is focused on finding a Brexit deal that works, but that rejects the Irish backstop. Mrs Foster also advises that the Prime Minister has already set out to the European Union why a Northern Ireland-only backstop would be anti-democratic. Sinn Fein has warned that unionist parties must have the right to veto any Brexit deal that they do not agree with. There has been speculation that the government is re-considering the idea of a Stormont lock to break the impasse. This type of agreement would create a formal mechanism for consulting and seeking the approval of Northern Ireland’s devolved administration in the backstop, allowing the Stormont parties a say before any divergence between NI and GB would happen after Brexit.

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UK trade agreements with non-EU countries in a no-deal Brexit

The Department for International Trade have published updated guidance on the new trade agreements which will be in place if there’s a no-deal Brexit. As trade agreements that the UK is currently part of as an EU Member State will no longer apply post-Brexit, the UK government have been working on new deals to replace them. For clarity, the DIT have advised that where new agreements are not in place before the UK leaves the EU, then trade will take place on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

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New EU immigration policy in the event of a no-deal Brexit published

The Home Office have published new plans for EU immigration to the UK which will apply after 31 October 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Though a policy was published under Teresa May’s government about the “European Temporary Leave to Remain”, the Home Office last week published an amended version entitled “Euro TLR” which applies to “law abiding” EU and EFTA arrivals after exit day. The Euro TLR will be granted for 36 months and can be applied for until 31 December 2020. Those who hold the Euro TLR can use the status as a bridge into the new immigration system, the criteria for which is still to be decided.

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There is a way to get a Brexit deal, insists Boris

The Prime Minister has announced that “loads of people” want to leave the EU with an agreement, but that he is prepared to leave without one if absolutely necessary. During a meeting with Arlene Foster, Leader of the DUP, Mr Johnson is to have confirmed his commitment to securing a deal which works for the entire United Kingdom as well as the Republic of Ireland. It is still hoped that pragmatic and practical solutions can still be introduced to the debate at this stage which may find some common ground between the EU and the UK.

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Home Office publishes new guidance on post-Brexit right to work checks

The Home office have published a new policy paper on post-Brexit EU migration and guidance for businesses on conducting right to work checks. This guidance sets aside the previous policy announced in late August. Employers can face a fine if they employ a person whose immigration status does not permit them to work in the UK. The employer won’t be fined they’re found to have carried out prescribed right to work checks, which can take the form of a manual document or (in some cases) an online status check. Though completing the checks exempts the employer from receiving a fine, it is still a criminal offence for an individual to be working in the UK if they have reasonable cause to believe that, or know outright, that their immigration status prevents them from working in the UK.

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Brexit – implications for private pensions

The Pensions Regulator has acknowledged that Brexit will have implications for both workplace and private pensions. This is in part due to the costs of complying with investment markets legislation incurred by asset managers, brokers and banks which in turn is passed to pension fund clients. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) explains that if the UK leave the EU with a deal, there will be an implementation period, during which EU law applies until December 2020 and so existing protections and rights won’t change during this period. The FCA have recently taken steps to limit the impact of a no-deal Brexit, and the government has put in place a temporary permissions regime to allow EEA providers to continue to operate in the UK after it has left the EU whilst they get permanent FCA authorisation.

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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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