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Brexit round-up – 22/03/19

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.

EU agrees to Brexit delay

In a press statement released on 20 March 2019, European Council President Donald Tusk stated that the European Union will only agree to delay Brexit if MPs approve the current Withdrawal Agreement.  However, on 21 March, it was announced that the UK and the EU had agreed to delay Brexit until 22 May providing that MPs approve the Prime Minister’s deal in the next week.  If Parliament fails to approve the deal within the weeklong timeframe however, a far shorter delay period will apply – lasting only until 12 April.  In relation to the implications of this, Mr Tusk explained: “What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed.”

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Prime Minister requests three month delay to Brexit

On 20 March 2019, in a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, Theresa May formally requested an extension to the Article 50 period until 30 June 2019. The letter indicated that the purpose is to provide time to ratify and implement the Withdrawal Agreement. Mrs May’s letter also confirmed that she intended to bring back the deal to the House of Commons for a third “meaningful vote” as soon as possible after the European Council meeting on 21-22 March 2019; asking the European Council, in advance of that vote, to approve the joint instrument which Mrs May agreed with Mr Tusk on 11 March 2019, and stating that Mrs May intended to bring forward further domestic proposals that confirm previous commitments to protect the UK’s internal market.

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EU Ministers agree continued EU access for UK transport operators

EU ministers have formally adopted laws which mean UK airlines, hauliers and passenger bus and coach operators will continue to be able to provide services to and from the EU in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. For UK hauliers, this means permits will not be required for the vast majority of journeys to the EU until the end of 2019. ECMT permits will enable hauliers to transit the EU to third countries. Operators of regular bus and coach services who have existing authorisations can also continue to provide services between the UK and the EU until the end of 2019. Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “The Government believes that the best outcome is for the UK to leave the EU with a deal, but we will continue to progress sensible contingency plans.”

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Third “meaningful vote” must be different, says Speaker

On 18 March 2019, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, made a statement saying that, in accordance with parliamentary rules, the Government cannot ask the House a question which is “substantially” the same as a question it has already been asked. He said the second vote on the Prime Minister’s deal last week was “in order” as it was substantially different to the first, but any further votes must pass the “test” he set out in order to be allowed. Although Mr Bercow was not entirely clear what would need to be different, he did tell Hilary Benn, Chair of the Exiting the EU Committee, that a “demonstrable change to the proposition” would be required.

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Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) publishes final guidance on effects of a “no-deal” Brexit on its functions  

The CMA has published the final version of its guidance on the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on the functions of the CMA. The guidance explains the legal changes expected to result from Brexit and sets out how Brexit will affect the CMA’s powers and processes for antitrust and cartel enforcement, merger control and consumer law enforcement after Brexit. It also explains the treatment of cases that are being reviewed by the European Commission or the CMA on the date of exit. The guidance will come into effect on exit day only in the event that the UK leaves the EU in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, and the Competition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/93) comes into effect.

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.

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