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Brexit round-up – 16/11/18

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.

UK and EU agree text of draft Withdrawal Agreement

On 14 November 2018 Theresa May agreed a draft Brexit deal with Brussels. The details of the draft agreement addresses the Northern Ireland “backstop” which aims to guarantee that physical checks will not be reintroduced at the border with the Irish Republic, in the event of the EU and UK failing to agree a deal on future trading relations that involves not having a physical border. Mrs May has since attended a special cabinet meeting and told the Commons the UK is “significantly closer” to delivering on the result of the Brexit vote and that it would give the UK control of borders, law and money, and also protect business and jobs.

For more information, please click here and here.

Cabinet Members resign following announcement of draft Withdrawal Agreement

In addition to a number of junior post holders, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Shailesh Vara have resigned as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Minister of State for Northern Ireland respectively following the Prime Minister’s unveiling of the draft Withdrawal Agreement.  Explaining his position, Mr Raab said: “I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit.  The terms of the backstop amount to a hybrid of the EU Customs Union and Single Market obligations.  No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to exit the arrangement.”

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House of Commons publishes Brexit timeline paper

The House of Commons library has published a Brexit timeline briefing paper, outlining the events leading to the UK’s exit from the European Union and subsequent dates of note, looking ahead to expected events as the UK and the EU negotiate the UK’s exit. The timeline begins on the date of the referendum in 2016 and looks forward to 31 December 2021 when the UK Government expects the ‘Irish backstop’ to end, in the hope that alternative measures to any temporary customs arrangements will be in place.

For more information, please click here.

European Commission proposes visa-free travel in a ‘no-deal’ scenario

The European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans has said that Britons travelling to EU countries after Brexit for short stays will not require visas, providing the UK does the same for EU nationals. It would reportedly apply to trips of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. The Commission said this arrangement would start at the end of the transition period, scheduled to be at the end of 2020, if a deal is agreed. In the event of a ‘no-deal’, it would take effect from 30 March 2020. The Commission is calling on both institutions to make quick progress on this proposal so that it can be adopted in good time before 30 March 2019.

For more information, please click here.

Defra faces enormous Brexit challenges, warns Committee

A report published by the Committee of Public Accounts has concluded that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs faces enormous challenges in the lead-up to Brexit. The report establishes that there is a high level risk in the Department’s portfolio. Fundamental issues for food, chemical and animal importers and exporters are yet to be resolved and the Department is too complacent about the levels of disruption or interruption to trade that may be faced. Although the Department has made good progress in drafting 86 statutory instruments, in its efforts to rush through drafting there are concerns about quality.

For more information, please click here.

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.

We have recently 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.

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