Countdown to Brexit: 58 days – As the Prime Minister is sent back to Brussels in an attempt to re-open negotiations with the EU – a ‘Malthouse Compromise’ has emerged

It was drama in Westminster last night, ending in a mission for Theresa May to go back to the EU to try to renegotiate an aspect of her Brexit deal.

Within 10 minutes of the vote, the President of the European Council said that the freely and openly negotiated between EU and UK and accepted last November - "is not open for renegotiation". Mission Impossible for Theresa May then.

Meanwhile, a possible compromise came from MPs for a different kind of Brexit settlement - the ’Malthouse Compromise’ – or as we are in ‘mission impossible’ mode - ‘Plan C’. In this posting we look at whether there is any chance that Plan C might be acceptable to the EU.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 59 days – as MPs resume discussions, Parliament’s “Exiting the EU” Committee has published a full analysis of options open to the UK following the defeat of Theresa May’s ‘deal’

The House of Commons has resumed debate on whether there is a deal that they can back – or whether the UK exits the EU on at 23:00 GMT on 29 March 2019 with a no-deal.

Meanwhile, Parliament’s “Exiting the EU” Committee has published a full response to the Commons vote that overwhelmingly rejected Theresa May’s Brexit ‘deal’.  The deal implements Brexit in two stages:  the “Withdrawal Agreement” (effective 23:00 GMT on Friday 29 March 2019) - and the “Political Declaration on the Future Framework for Relations between the EU and the UK” (allowing time for future negotiations and to be concluded by 31 December 2020).

In this post, we look at their conclusions - and it paints a picture that there are no options open to the UK that will see the UK better off after leaving the EU .

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 60 days – A critical week in Parliament as Airbus announces major job losses in event of a no-deal Brexit

This week in Parliament is coming to the crunch on the terms of Brexit on 29 March.

Tomorrow, MPs will vote on the Prime Minister's proposed next steps.  Her negotiated deal failed to receive the House's approval on 15 January - and, last Monday, she made a statement setting out what she intended to do next.

On Thursday, Tom Enders - who runs Airbus - said his company would have to make "potentially very harmful decisions for the UK" in the event of it leaving the EU with no deal. Airbus employs 14,000 people directly in the UK - and supports another 110,000 jobs in the supply chain and servicing of its plants. 

The European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs responded angrily - saying that they “would never tell a German MP how to vote in the Bundestag”.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 61 days – Brexit gets animal as Yellowhammer challenges Cobra

Government contingency planning for no-deal Brexit – codenamed “Operation Yellowhammer” – is highlighting the key issues to be addressed in dozens of potential impact areas including: communities, trade, public unrest, border crossings and price rises across utilities and fuel.

And there are major concerns whether the Government’s “Cobra” committee - which sits in times of emergency – will be able to make decisions about the fallout from Brexit due to lack of operational information. At the moment it seems that there is no system in place to collect and collate data from local and regional government.

Meanwhile, a Northern Ireland MP believes that a no-deal Brexit threatens the very stability of the United Kingdom.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 62 days – European Parliament confirms that it's Theresa May’s deal or a no-deal Brexit - and prepares to assist EU fishing industry if it’s no-deal.

The European Parliament - in light of last week's 'meaningful vote' and the Prime Minister’s statement last Monday, 21 January 2019. - has made it clear that it would not “consent to a UK Withdrawal Agreement which did not include the backstop-insurance against a hard border in Ireland.”

Meanwhile - as part of the European Commission's contingency planning - they adopted two legislative proposals to help mitigate the “significant impact that a no-deal Brexit” would have on EU fishermen. One in the form of monetary compensation payments, the other is increased access to fishing grounds.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 63 days – more EU countries ‘courting’ UK firms as Brexit approaches

Brussels is playing its 3 cards:  the “home of the EU” card - proximity to key decision-makers; the “freedom of movement” with open access to the European-wide talent pool; and continuing to “operate under the common legal and regulatory framework” allowing seamless delivery of digital services across Europe - in an attempt to attract media companies.

Meanwhile the list of organisations relocating from London to Amsterdam continues to grow.

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 64 days – Still no trade deals in place - and pressure grows to solve Irish border issues in a no-deal Brexit

All trade deals that the UK is currently party to as an EU member would instantly cease to apply at 23:00 GMT on 29 March in a no-deal Brexit. As late as last week, Liam Fox said he remained "hopeful" that 40 free trade deals could be in place by then - if the other countries involved were "willing to put the work in".

Questioned in Parliament, the Minister of State for Trade Policy argued there were a "very wide range of reasons" why setting up new free trade agreements was proving challenging!

Meanwhile, in Davos, the Irish Prime Minister, said the solution to the border was to ratify the deal agreed between the UK and the EU. If the UK leaves without a deal - the EU and Ireland would want an agreement with similar provisions as the Irish border backstop - per the negotiated ‘deal’.

And north of the border Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said yesterday: “I don’t think the public understand that the implications… people might find themselves in a situation of being forced to assume an identify they wouldn’t choose.” The deal as it stands “would put people on both sides of the border at risk.”

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John ShuttleworthComment
Countdown to Brexit: 65 days – Immigration & Social Security post-Brexit

As MPs prepare to look for Brexit options in the chamber of the House of Commons, Parliament is working in the parallel to ensure that the necessary legislation is in place for a post-Brexit Britain to run.

The future of immigration and citizens rights is a vital element – and time is limited to complete the process if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March with no-deal. A Bill is progressing that will end free movement; set out arrangements for social security

Meanwhile, the Danish government has prepared for all possible outcomes of the ongoing political tumult in the UK over Brexit, including a no-deal scenario. The message for UK citizens living in Denmark is immediate action required!

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Countdown to Brexit: 66 days – MPs have asked Parliament to consider a request to delay Brexit – but is that even possible?

Nick Boles, MP, presented a Private Members Bill requiring the Government to request an extension to the Article 50 Brexit process in certain circumstances. 

This has been superseded by another in the name of Yvette Cooper, MP - with the essential difference that it does not provide a statutory role for the Liaison Committee - increasing the chances that it will be successful.

This posting explains how the Boles and Cooper Bills have the same aim of giving Parliament greater control over the Government's negotiations with the European Union – especially if a no-deal Brexit is imminent - and whether this could even be considered a possibility within the UK constitution.

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John ShuttleworthComment
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