Druces LLP has been keeping track of the latest Brexit developments. If you have any queries about the content of this blog please contact Toby Stroh.
9 June 2017
The unexpected outcome of the General Election held on 8 June has led many commentators to question whether the UK Government has a mandate to seek a so-called “hard Brexit”, leaving both the single market and the customs union. The Conservative Party’s alliance with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party may also have an impact on the UK’s ability to take back full control of its immigration policy. Since each of these shifts are likely to result in the European Court of Justice retaining a measure of jurisdiction over some aspects of UK laws, it is hard to overestimate the significance to the UK’s Brexit strategy of the shift in the political background.
Leading politicians in the EU are also expressing concern as to how the outcome of the election will affect the timing of the negotiations and the ability of the UK’s negotiating team to deliver on any agreement reached. It is clear, however, that there is likely to be little sympathy for the UK’s position and no flexibility in the two-year period to the UK’s formal departure, which began when Article 50 was triggered at the end of March 2017. Barring even more extraordinary political developments, the UK remains on track to leave the EU in March 2019.
29 March 2017
The Prime Minister has signed the letter triggering Article 50, which is currently in Brussels being delivered by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s ambassador to the EU.
The letter is expected to be given to Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, shortly after midday.
20 March 2017
The government has announced that Theresa May will officially notify the European Union of the UK’s withdrawal next Wednesday, 29th March, by way of a letter to the European Council. The Prime Minister is expected to address the House of Commons shortly afterwards.
This means that Brexit is expected to take place in March 2019, following a two-year negotiation period.
14 March 2017
The House of Lords has voted 274 to 188 not to challenge the House of Commons again after its amendments regarding EU residency rights and a “meaningful vote” on the final deal were rejected.
This means Parliament has passed the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill and the government is on track to meet its deadline for triggering Article 50, currently expected in the final week of March. The bill will shortly receive Royal Assent and become law.
7 March 2017
After a three hour debate, the House of Lords has voted 366 to 268 to amend the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill to allow Parliament a “meaningful vote” on the final terms of withdrawal. The amendment provides for separate votes in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
The government’s position remains that the UK will withdraw from the EU irrespective of whether a deal is agreed.
The House of Commons are expected to consider the amendments towards the middle of next week, following debates on the Budget.
1 March 2017
The House of Lords has voted 358 to 256 to amend the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, to ensure EU citizens already living in the UK post-Brexit retain the same residence rights.
The amendment requires the government to introduce proposals to protect these rights within 3 months of triggering Article 50. The bill will now return to the House of Commons on Tuesday, where MPs may decide to remove the amendment.
There are currently around 2.9 million EU citizens living in the UK.
1 February 2017
The House of Commons has voted by a majority of 384 to back the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. There was a split of 498 votes to 114, with the opposition consisting of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, some Labour MPs and Conservative Ken Clarke.
The Bill will now proceed to the next stage in the House of Commons and will need to be approved by the House of Lords before being enacted.
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is being debated in Parliament, with its second reading taking place in the House of Commons.
A vote will take place on Wednesday 1st February as to whether the Bill should proceed. Although there are several stages remaining, the Bill is being “fast-tracked” to meet the government’s deadline of triggering Article 50 by the end of March and is widely expected to pass.
24 January 2017
The Supreme Court has upheld the decision that the government must seek approval from Parliament before triggering Article 50, by a majority of 8 to 3.
It also ruled, however, that approval from the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies was not needed.
The method by which Parliament will authorise triggering Article 50 has not yet been confirmed.
23 January 2017
The High Court has established the legal position regarding reverse cross-border mergers, which had not previously been permitted under English law.
An English company was absorbed by its Italian subsidiary, in a corporate first. The mechanism for doing so, implemented by The Companies Cross Border Mergers Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2974) (as amended) (CCBMR), could be important for many companies restructuring in response to Brexit.
18 January 2017
The Supreme Court has announced that the judgment in the case of R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will be provided next Tuesday, 24th January.
The result will determine whether the government is entitled to invoke Article 50 without parliamentary approval.
17 January 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will leave the single market, but stated the government will aim for “the greatest possible access” to it post-Brexit. Similarly, the UK will leave the EU customs union and seek a new agreement.
In her speech Theresa May also confirmed the government will aim to restrict EU migration, but is still considering which immigration model to implement. The position of EU citizens currently living in the UK has not been decided, as there will need to be “reciprocity” with regards to safeguarding British expats living in other EU countries. When negotiations formally end, currently expected to be in 2019, Theresa May indicated that there will be a phased implementation period for the new immigration rules.
Theresa May announced that the final deal agreed between the EU and the UK will be subject to a vote in Parliament, although the UK will leave the EU regardless of whether it is entered into.
Once the UK has left the EU, it will no longer be bound by the European Court of Justice.
16 January 2017
The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the Article 50 process needed for the UK to withdraw from the EU. The full text can be found here: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7551.
28 November 2016
The government faces a new legal challenge over whether the UK should remain in the EEA after leaving the EU. Think tank British Influence says that leaving the EU does not mean automatically withdrawing from the EEA, which would involve a separate process to trigger Article 127 of the EEA agreement.
The group says that triggering Article 127 would have to be approved by Parliament, and that the government could be acting outside its powers if it withdraws from the EEA without this mandate.
The government’s position is that the UK is only party to the EEA agreement in its capacity as an EU member state and will automatically cease to be a member of the EEA upon leaving the EU.
18 November 2016
The Supreme Court has confirmed that the Lord Advocate for Scotland and Counsel General for Wales will be heard in the appeal against the High Court ruling that MPs must be able to vote on triggering Article 50.
The hearing will begin on 5th December and will also include submissions from Northern Ireland victims campaigner Raymond McCord and the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.
8 November 2016
The Supreme Court has granted the government’s application to appeal the ruling by the High Court that it does not have the power to trigger Article 50 without approval by Parliament.
The Scottish government has confirmed it will intervene, with the Lord Advocate applying to be heard in the appeal. If the intervention is successful, it could mean both Holyrood and Westminster’s approval is needed before Article 50 can be triggered.
The appeal will be heard from the 5th to the 8th of December, with a final judgement expected in early 2017.
7 November 2016
Despite the ruling by the High Court, Theresa May has said she expects to trigger Brexit by the end of March 2017 as planned.
The Prime Minister has also said that if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, they should specify how the vote might happen. It is currently unclear whether a resolution would suffice or a full Act of Parliament is required.
3 November 2016
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without approval by Parliament, finding that the government does not have the power to do so under the Crown’s prerogative.
A spokesman said the government is “disappointed” by the ruling and an appeal to the Supreme Court is expected to take place in December.
28 October 2016
The High Court in Belfast has dismissed a legal challenge against Brexit, ruling that there is nothing in the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement to prevent the government from triggering Article 50.
Two separate proceedings were brought, one by Raymond McCord, a campaigner for victims of the Troubles, and one by politicians from Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Alliance Party and the Green Party.
18 October 2016
The government has said it is “very likely” MPs will be able to vote on the final Brexit agreement after Article 50 is triggered.
18 October 2016
Judges in the High Court are deliberating on the question of whether the government has the right to invoke Article 50 without a parliamentary vote, in a case brought by Gina Miller (an investment manager) and others.
Lord Justice Thomas told the court that a ruling would be given “as quickly as possible”, although the case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court and heard there towards the end of the year.
7 October 2016
The House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee has launched an inquiry into future trade in services between the UK and the EU after Brexit, focusing specifically on the following sectors: digital and telecommunications; professional business services; aviation; and creative and broadcasting.