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Brexit round-up – 20/12/19

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 proposes to amend Brexit bill to rule out extension of the transition period

The Government has announced that it is adding a new clause to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to rule out any extension to the transition period. The Commons will vote on it later today. If approved it will prevent any extension of the transition period which is due to conclude on 2020 but can currently be extended by mutual agreement for up to two years. The UK will leave the EU on 31 January and if the new clause is approved it will only have until the end of the year to agree a trade deal after which it will leave with no trade deal. With trade deals taking many years to conclude Boris Johnson is facing criticism for the move. Liberal Democrat interim leader Sir Ed Davey said “The only way Johnson can meet the December 2020 timetable is by giving up all his previous promises to Leave voters and agreeing to all the demands of the EU.”

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Pound falls again over uncertain Brexit

Following the pound’s surge to its highest level since May last year after the results of the general election were held, it has now fallen again this week after the Government said it would add a new clause to the Brexit bill to rule out any extension to the transition period beyond the end of next year which increases the chance of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal. The pound fell 1% against the dollar, to below $1.32, and dropped 1.2% against the euro to €1.18. Andy Scott, associate director at financial risk advisor JCRA, said “Sterling’s impressive gains following the exit poll and election result have now been completely wiped out as markets are reminded that Boris Johnson’s promise to leave the EU is something he intends to fulfil, possibly without negotiating an amicable future relationship.”

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Nicola Sturgeon calls for Scottish independence

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants the UK Government to agree a transfer of powers allowing a referendum to be held in 2020 to vote on Scottish independence so Scotland can leave the UK and rejoin the EU as an independent member state. When voting on Brexit Scotland voted to remain with 62% and a successful second referendum could allow them to join an independent member state. Ms Sturgeon said that by transferring the power to allow a referendum it would ensure the referendum result was seen as being entirely legal and legitimate, particularly by the EU. Boris Johnson has said he is opposed to a second referendum and Ms Sturgeon has warned that “you can’t hold Scotland in the union against its will” and has not ruled out taking him to court if he does not agree.

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EU warns over treatment of EU citizens

The EU’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has warned that the European Parliament could block Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens due to worries that the UK’s settlement scheme for EU nationals could cause problems and leave some citizens with no immigration status. He said “Everyone presumes the European Parliament will give automatically its consent to the withdrawal agreement. Not if the remaining problems with the citizens’ rights are not solved first. Citizens can never become the victims of Brexit.” Under the current plans ministers have said that EU citizens could face deportation if they don’t make the deadline to sign up for the Home Office’s settlement scheme.

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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.

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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