Countdown to Brexit: 67 days – another busy week in Parliament but the uncertainty continues

As the Prime Minister is accused of creating a “Brexit Groundhog Day” - the pace of politics continues in Westminster. Are we any closer to knowing the Brexit option for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 29 March?

We summarise some of the coming week's highlights in Parliament - and include a pick from some of last week’s Brexit related headlines.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 68 days – European Commission implements “no-deal” Contingency Action Plan in specific sectors

Given the uncertainty that the UK will ratify the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ agreed between the EU and the UK, the European Commission has called on the remaining 27 EU member states to intensify preparedness and work at all levels for towards a “no-deal” Contingency Action Plan.

This delivers on their commitment to adopt all necessary “no-deal” proposals in its second preparedness Communication of 13 November 2018.

The package includes 14 measures in a limited number of areas where a "no-deal" scenario would create major disruption in the EU27.  These areas include financial services, air transport, customs, and climate policy.

In this posting we give important details of the impact across Europe and the UK for businesses and citizens.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 69 days – UK needs a statesman as odds on consensus in Parliament diminish – and Lords scrutiny highlights further gaps in the deal.

Former prime minister John Major said that MPs may need to be given a free vote on all Brexit options as the only way that will allow them to put the interests of the nation – and the 63% of the population who did not vote to leave the EU in the referendum – first.

Meanwhile, concern among politicians, business, commerce and sports stars across Europe is becoming increasingly vocal, imploring the UK to remain as a member of the EU.

And the Parliamentary European Union Committee has put on record that it is “concerned by the lack of assurances about the Government’s commitment to the Human Rights Act post-Brexit” – and so should we all be.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 70 days – Parliament defines the options open – and no-deal preparations ramp up

After the overwhelming rejection of the Government’s Brexit ‘deal’, the Commons ‘Exiting the EU Committee’ has released a report setting potential next steps ahead of 21 January – by when the Government must table a motion by at the latest on what it proposes to do next.

Meanwhile, Theresa May appears to be running down the clock towards Brexit by opting to take the full amount of time allowed before a vote on her next steps - whilst Ministers are putting army reservists on standby.- and stopping other Government work to focus on no-deal preparations. 

In this post, we look at the options - and the conflicting Government political stance versus its actions.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 71 days – Government delays vote on an amended ‘deal’ – increasing risk of a ‘no-deal Brexit’

The House of Commons voted against accepting the Government’ negotiated Brexit ‘deal’ on Tuesday.  It was voted down 432 votes to 202. The Government now has 21 days to: “make a statement setting out the Government proposes to proceed in relation to negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union.”

he Prime Minister, accordingly, said that the Government would both make a statement and table a motion on or before Monday 21 January - with a debate within 7 sitting days thereafter – that is, on or before 30 January.

This is perilously close to the jointly agreed Treaty deadline for the UK to give notice of acceptance of the Withdrawal Agreement - or to leave the European Union on 29 March under the default arrangements of a ‘no-deal’.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 72 days – ‘No Confidence’ vote consumes another precious day of Brexit preparations

Yesterday, Parliament voted not to accept the Brexit ‘deal’ on offer by 432 votes to 202.

After almost two years locked in negotiation, the EU and UK finalised the texts of two linked documents: ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ and ‘Political Declaration’ on 14 November 2018.  Together these formed the Brexit ‘deal’.

Without this deal being approved, time to find alternatives to the default ‘no-deal’ Brexit on 29 March is running out.  It is clear that it is not a case of ‘tuning’ the deal to reverse the defeat.

A no-deal Brexit by default looks ever more likely as another day of precious Parliamentary time for Brexit preparation is lost to debating and voting on the ‘no confidence’ motion that followed the Government’s Brexit deal defeat.

In this post, we look at the increasingly binary choice as EU re-states there can be no renegotiation of the ‘deal’.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 73 days – As Parliament rejects the ‘deal’ – Trade in a no-deal Brexit

From 30 March, every business will have to submit customs declarations - and may be required to provide guarantees to cover potential customs debts.  Manufacturers or importers established in the UK will no longer be considered as EU ‘economic operators’.

The subject of trade in goods - and even more so in services - in a post-Brexit no-deal World is a continual source of questions in to Brexit Partners.  For the avoidance of doubt, we are posting the Parliamentary briefing to MPs in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March ahead of the meaningful vote on the Prime Minister’s ‘deal’ this evening - and as the odds of a no-deal Brexit has increased.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 74 days – A critical week ahead – news and events roundup

Day 4 of the ‘Meaningful Vote’ debate.  MPs continue discussion of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.  This evening is the deadline for them to table any ‘amendments’. 

MPs are expected to vote sometime after from 7:00 pm tomorrow - with votes on amendments taking place first - followed by the ‘Meaningful Vote’ on the Brexit ‘deal’.

In today’s posting, we’ve added highlights from last week’s Brexit news in case you missed anything…

…and tomorrow we will post a summary briefing on what happens if the Government lose the vote and the UK was to leave the European Union on 29 March in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 75 days – Citizens rights and trade agreements with Switzerland in a no-deal Brexit

The Swiss government has confirmed that it has signed off on the draft text of a new agreement that will form the basis of business and trade relations between UK and Switzerland post-Brexit.

Alongside the trade agreement, Switzerland has been working with the UK towards an agreement on the status of UK citizens living in Switzerland - and vice versa.

In this posting we summarise the position in the event of either a ‘deal’ or ‘no-deal’.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 76 days – security of UK food supply in a no-deal Brexit

A briefing to MPs ahead of next week’s debate on seven Brexit petitions includes an updated view of the potential impact on food supply. 

Around half of the UK’s food and drink supply comes from within the UK.  30% comes from the EU and 20% from the rest of the world.

The retail and distribution sectors are increasingly concerned about the practicalities of stockpiling food.  The CEO of the Food and Drink Federation told MPs on the BEIS Committee that warehouses around the UK for frozen and chilled food were “for all practical purposes booked out at the moment”.  It seems that in the event of shortages, decisions on allocating food will be centrally made by Government using a “triage” system to prioritise who gets what foodstuff and in what quantity.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 77 days – no-deal Brexit means gaps in legislation and preparations - but UK extra time unlikely

There is a backlog of at least six Bills that must be passed into law before Britain leaves the European Union. Ministers are becoming convinced that a request for Brexit to be delayed is needed - irrespective of the outcome of next Tuesday’s vote on the on ‘the deal’ itself.

Without these Bills – and particularly in the event of a no-deal with its ‘continue as we are now’ transition period as a buffer – the UK will have a legal, regulatory and constitutional vacuum on 29 March.

Even asking MPs to sit at weekends and cancel their half-term holiday in February cannot provide enough Parliamentary time. In this posting we update the options that are open to the UK taking into account constitutional and time constraints.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 78 days – No-deal Brexit focuses on consumer protection and national security

For MPs, it’s ‘day 2’ of the resumed debate on the Withdrawal Agreement.  Whilst they are focused on the vote next week on whether to accept or reject the ‘deal’ – elsewhere preparations for a no-deal Brexit continue move apace.

The House of Lords is preparing to scrutinise a Treaty on the future security of the nation - and looking into consumer rights post-Brexit.

And news came out, today, that the Cabinet Office had quietly commissioned a further £75m of Brexit-related consulting.

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John ShuttleworthComment