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Brexit round-up – 15/02/19

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.

Government suffers fresh Brexit defeat in the Commons

The Government has failed to secure a motion endorsing its negotiating strategy after the pro-Brexit group, the ERG, abstained from voting on the matter due to the strategy appearing to rule out a no-deal outcome.  Commenting on the defeat, one former Minister explained: “Maybe, just maybe, the penny will now drop with the Prime Minister and her Chief Whip that the hardliners in the ERG want a no-deal Brexit and will stop at nothing to get it… Responsible MPs of all parties must come together on 27 and 29 March to stop them.”

For more information please click here.

Theresa May promises meaningful vote

On 12 February, Theresa May promised MPs a final, decisive vote on her Brexit deal with the European Union, once she has secured changes to the Irish backstop clause. Mrs May said she needed “some time” to get the changes she believes MPs want. She also promised to update MPs again on 26 February and, if she had not secured a new deal by then, to give them a say on the next steps in non-binding votes.

For more information, please click here and here.

British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) publishes Brexit “critical unanswered questions”

With less than 50 days until exit day, the BCC has published a list of twenty critical questions that remain unanswered for businesses in the unwelcome event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal– from what trade agreements will be in place with countries around the globe, to whether and how firms can move skilled staff between the UK and EU, and which regulations they will need to follow. Many of the unanswered questions reflect fundamental aspects of how companies operate; for instance, the terms of the trade agreements can affect pricing decisions, margins, even choice of business location and the geography of supply chains.

For more information, please click here.

Proposed regulation to permit use of the Channel Tunnel by trains in a ‘no-deal’ scenario

On 12 February 2019, the European Commission proposed a new regulation which will permit trains to use the Channel Tunnel for three months if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The planned regulation will give the UK and France time to renegotiate the terms under which the railway service operates, but is yet to be agreed by the European Parliament and EU member states. The text of the proposed regulation confirms it is “intended to ensure the continuity limited to cross-border operations and services,” warning that “an interruption in these activities would cause significant social and economic problems.”

For more information, please click here.

UK and Switzerland sign trade continuity agreement

On 11 February 2019, International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP, signed the UK-Switzerland agreement in Bern, with Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin. The agreement simplifies trade and allows businesses to continue trading freely, without any additional tariffs, and continues the elimination of duties on the vast majority of goods traded between the UK and Switzerland. Mr Fox said: “This [agreement] is of huge economic importance to UK businesses so I’m delighted to be here in Bern today, ensuring continuity for 15,000 British exporters. Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the UK, but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU.”

For more information, please click here.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) awards £71 million logistics contract

HMRC has awarded a new £71 million contract, for a five year term, to support existing customs compliance work, as it moves inland pre-clearance checks to new multipurpose sites. Following a full procurement exercise, logistics firm Wincanton will work in partnership with HMRC and Border Force, providing logistics. HMRC and Border Force undertake targeted checks inland, which help prevent mis-declared goods from flowing into the country. HMRC has moved its inland pre-clearance operations from previous sites at Heathrow and Bicester to the new purpose-equipped sites at Hayes and Milton Keynes.

For more information, please click here.

Government launches new system to maintain EU restrictions on harmful gases

On 11 February 2019, the Government launched a new system to ensure the UK maintains current restrictions on the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The new online system will control the use of these harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, such as fluorinated gases, powerful greenhouses gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners. In a ‘no-deal’ scenario, UK businesses that produce or trade in these gases or products that contain them, will have to register on the new system by 12 April 2019. This will replace the current system which controls emissions for all EU Member States.

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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