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Brexit round-up – 15/03/19

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.

MPs vote to extend Article 50

On 14 March 2019 members of Parliament voted in favour of the Government seeking an extension to the Brexit process by 413 to 202 votes. This means the UK may not now leave on 29 March 2019, as previously planned. Most Conservative MPs voted against delaying Brexit, including 7 cabinet members, meaning Theresa May had to rely on Labour and other opposition votes to get it through. Mrs May says Brexit could be delayed by 3 months, to 30 June, if MPs back her deal in a vote next week. If they reject her deal again then she says she will seek a longer extension, but any delay would need the “unanimous agreement” of the 27 other EU member states.

For more information, please click here.

MPs vote to reject a no-deal Brexit

On 13 March 2019, the House of Commons (HoC) rejected the idea of UK leaving the EU without a deal,  by 321 to 278, a majority of 43. Speaking after the result of the vote, Theresa May said: “The legal default in EU and UK law is that the UK will leave without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on every one of us in the House to find out what that is”. Responding to the votes, the British Chambers of Commerce said: “It’s all well and good that Parliament has said it doesn’t want a no-deal exit, but without concrete action, its gestures are meaningless for business. A messy and disorderly exit on March 29th is still a clear and present danger”.

For more information, please click here and here.

HoC rejects Brexit deal in second “meaningful vote”

On 12 March 2019, in the second “meaningful vote”, the HoC rejected the Government’s approval motion concerning the Withdrawal Agreement and the framework for a future relationship (political declaration) by 149 votes. In a statement after the defeat, Mrs May said the choices facing the UK were “unenviable”, but because of the rejection of her deal, “they are choices that must be faced”.  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded by saying that Mrs May should now call a general election. Meanwhile, EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted: “The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line. The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before”.

For more information, please click here and here.

Attorney General says legal risk of UK being tied to the EU “remains unchanged”

The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, has written to the Prime Minister setting out his legal opinion on the Joint Instrument and Unilateral Declaration concerning the Withdrawal Agreement. In his advice, Mr Cox said: “the legal risk remains unchanged” namely that if a post-Brexit trade agreement cannot be reached due to “intractable differences”, the UK would have “no internationally lawful means” of leaving the backstop without EU agreement. However, he added that the new assurances secured by the Theresa May did “reduce the risk that the UK could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained” in the Irish backstop, if talks on the two sides future relationship broke down due to “bad faith” by the EU.

For more information, please click here.

Government publishes temporary tariff regime for a no-deal Brexit

The Government has published details of the UK’s temporary tariff regime for a no-deal Brexit, designed to minimise costs to business and consumers while protecting vulnerable industries. The Government published this information ahead of the vote in Parliament on a no-deal to ensure MPs were fully informed. Under the temporary tariff, 87% of total imports to the UK by value would be eligible for tariff free access. Tariffs would still apply to 13% of goods imported into the UK. This includes, amongst others, a mixture of tariffs and quotas on beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy products to support farmers and producers who have historically been protected through high EU tariffs.

For more information, please click here.

Government assigns ‘critical goods’ to Government-secured freight capacity

The Government has confirmed that the contracts it has in place with Brittany Ferries and DFDS securing additional freight capacity, are intended to support the supply of Category 1 goods, which are currently reliant on the short strait (covering Dover, Folkestone, Calais, Dunkirk and Coquelles). A Category 1 good is one which is critical to preservation of human or animal welfare and/or national security for the UK, such as medicines.  Where Category 1 goods are currently imported or exported through other UK ports, these routes should continue to be used. The Government is engaging directly with companies that supply critical goods about the process to purchase tickets on these additional crossings.

For more information, please click here.

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) issues advice to travellers after Brexit

ABTA, which offers advice to travellers and represents travel agents and tour operators, has published a series of answers to frequently asked questions in relation to travelling after Brexit.   With regards to booking holidays after 29 March, ABTA advises: “There is nothing to suggest you will not be able to continue with your holiday plans after 29 March. Even in a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said flights to and from the UK will still be able to operate.” It also confirmed that it might be too soon to say whether there will be bigger queues at the airport “without knowing whether it’s a deal or no deal.” ABTA has also issued general advice to travellers covering areas where they can take reasonable action or put plans into place now.

For more information, please click here.

Government submits guidance for business when trading with various countries post-Brexit

The Government has updated its guidance for UK businesses on EU service provision if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK businesses will no longer be treated as if they were local businesses, and UK businesses and professionals providing services in the EEA will be regarded as originating from a ‘third country.’ The Government advises that if you’re a UK business or professional providing services in the EEA, you will need to check the national regulations to understand how best to operate. This can be achieved by checking the  Government’s relevant country guide.

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.

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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