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Brexit round-up – 16/08/19

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.

Jeremy Corbyn to call no-confidence vote

In order to stop a no-deal Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has said he will seek to call a no-confidence vote at the “earliest opportunity when we can be confidence of success.” Mr Corbyn outlined his plans in a letter, which include “seeking the confidence of the House for a strictly time-limited temporary Government with the aim of calling a general election, and securing the necessary extension of Article 50 to do so,” if the vote of no-confidence is successful. The letter has received mixed responses from MPs, with Change UK’s leader saying that Mr Corbyn “doesn’t even command respect and support from his own party never mind across the political divide” whilst Green MP Caroline Lucas has welcomed Mr Corbyn’s plans but insisted a referendum must be held before any general election.

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Boris Johnson has accused MPs of a “terrible collaboration” with the EU

Boris Johnson has said that the EU has become less willing to negotiate a new deal with the UK due to the opposition to leaving in Parliament and has said that this opposition has increased the likelihood of the UK being “forced to leave” without a deal. The comments by the Prime Minister came during a Facebook event hosted a Downing Street where the Prime Minister said he wants to leave the EU with a deal, but in order to do so, “we need our European friends to compromise.” He added that there is a “terrible kind of collaboration as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in Parliament and our European friends.”

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Philip Hammond accuses Boris Johnson of trying to wreck the chance of a new Brexit deal

Philip Hammond has said a no-deal Brexit would be “just as much as betrayal of the referendum result as not leaving at all” but has expressed concerns that the Prime Minister’s demand for the backstop to be entirely removed from the deal meant a no-deal was inevitable on 31 October. He said an attempt to have the backstop removed in its entirety is a “wrecking tactic” and he does not think the EU will start agreeing to changes to the current withdrawal agreement as any changes could “fragment” the EU.

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No chance of US-UK trade deal if Brexit undermines the Good Friday Agreement

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives has said that the UK’s exit from the EU could not be allowed to endanger the Irish peace deal. Her comments come after John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said the UK are “first in line” for a trade deal with the US. In a statement made on Wednesday, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, whose party controls the House, said whatever form Brexit takes “it cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.”

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House prices fall in south of England because of Brexit uncertainty

House prices have fallen in the south of England for the first time since 2009, Brexit uncertainty is blamed for holding down the property market. According to the Office for National Statistics, this is the first time that average prices had fallen in all three regions of southern England, covering an area extending from Milton Keynes in the north to Lands End in the west and Dover in the east, since September 2009. House price growth across the country has slowed since the Brexit vote in 2016 and the chairman of the estate agent Jackson-Stops has commented that “data makes it clear that continued uncertainty as we creep even closer to leaving the EU without a deal has caused hesitancy in some areas of the property markets.”

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UK could secure trade deal with the US

President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has said that the UK is “first in line” for a trade deal with the US. Mr Bolton also said that the US would propose a series of trade deals “very quickly [and] very straightforwardly”, and suggested that deals could be done on a “sector-by-sector” basis, with an agreement on manufacturing made first. Mr Bolton added that the US understood the importance of doing as much as possible as rapidly as possible before the 31 October exit date.

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Legal challenge to prevent Prime Minister forcing a no-deal Brexit has begun

The Court of Session in Edinburgh has agreed to hear arguments from both a group of MPs who want the Court to rule that suspending Parliament to make the UK leave the EU without a deal is “unlawful and unconstitutional” and Boris Johnson, who has repeatedly refused to rule out such a move. More than 70 politicians have put their name behind the move, all who tried to have the case accelerated due to fears that they may run out of time before the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October. However, Lord Doherty, the judge who will be hearing the case, refused to accelerate the case but agreed to move swiftly, fixing a full hearing for 6 September.

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Former trade adviser to Donald Trump says Brexit panic “not justified”

Steven Vaughn, a former top trade adviser to the US president has stressed that the UK has “enormous leverage” in a potential trade deal with the US. He also commented that the current US Trade Representative had already done all the preparations needed for a potential deal with the UK although he did acknowledge that agreeing a deal could take “months or years.” A key export for the US is agricultural products, but the fact farming methods in the US don’t fall under the EU regulations has led some to worry about food standards but Mr Vaughn has said that the US would like a deal to involve the expansion of farm exports, and he doesn’t think its “something people should be afraid of.”

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Jeremy Corbyn urges the UK’s most senior civil servant to prevent a no-deal Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill saying that leaving the EU on 31 October while a general election campaign is ongoing and before a new Government is elected wold be an “anti-democratic abuse of power.” Election rules say Parliament should be dissolved 25 working days before polling day meaning a no-deal Brexit could  happen whilst MPs are not sitting. His letter comes amid speculation that MPs will table a no-confidence motion in the Prime Minister and Mr Corbyn has said his party would propose a no-confidence vote at an “appropriate” time after the Commons returned from its summer recess on 3 September. However, the Prime Minister’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings has reportedly told MPs that losing a no-confidence vote would not stop the Prime Minister taking the UK out of the EU by the October 31 deadline.

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Preparing for a no-deal Brexit should be “top priority,” says Boris Johnson

In a letter to civil servants, Boris Johnson has said that “preparing urgently and rapidly for the possibility of an exit without a deal will be [his] top priority, and it will be the top priority for the civil service too.” The letter sent by the Prime Minister is similar to a letter sent by Chancellor Sajid Javid to HMRC earlier this month, in which he ordered HMRC to make preparing for no-deal its “absolute priority” and told them its preparations should include helping the public to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, as well as ensuring IT systems are ready and helping businesses with a helpline, and contacting traders directly.

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Sajid Javid announces one-year spending review

In a bid to give Government departments “financial certainty” for Brexit preparations, the Chancellor has announced a one-year spending review. Sajid Javid has said the review will assist in getting focused on “our priority,” which is preparing for Brexit. The Chancellor has commented that he is “confident that in [the] spending round, (…) we’ll be able to meet all our priorities, and that certainly means increased focus on the NHS, on police and on schools.” However, Labour’s John McDonnell has said that there are “gaping holes” in the spending plans, with “nowhere near enough” allocated to the NHS, schools or local government.”

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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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