Thursday, 9 November 2017

Brexit Briefing - October 2017

Author Furfur
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

For much of the month, attention in Britain has shifted away from Brexit to domestic concerns for two reasons. First, a spate of complaints of serious misconduct by politicians on both the left and the right which resulted in the resignation of two senior ministers, the withdrawal of the whip from several more and a tragic suicide.  Secondly, a frosty but not quite frozen communiqué of the 27 remaining EU member states at their Council meeting on 20 Oct 2017 which offered the hope of negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU (see the Conclusions 20 Oct 2017). Thought has at last been given to the nature of that future relationship.

On the 9 Nov 2017 Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform. published his predictions on how Brexit will unfold in The Guardian (see Charles Grant How Brexit will unfold – Britain will get a deal, but it’ll come at a price The Guardian 9 Nov 2017).  In his view, there will be:
1. A deal on citizens' rights, Ireland and the divorce settlement in December 2017;
2. A hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
3. A transitional arrangement on the EU’s terms;
4. No agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK before the UK leaves the EU;
5. No detailed proposals from the UK on a future economic partnership;
6. No bespoke agreement for the UK;
7. Some access to the single market in some sectors;
8. No undercutting by the UK of EU regulatory standards;
9. No preferential access to the EU's financial markets for the British financial services industries; and
10. Some kind of free trade agreement between the EU and UK.

That is probably the best that can be expected from the negotiations. There are many who fear that no deal will be reached at all.  The Confederation of German Industry, the German equivalent of the CBI, has warned its members who trade with or invest in Britain to prepare for a very hard Brexit indeed (see German Industry Federation advises its Members to prepare for a Hard Brexit 5 Oct 2017). As the UK will cease to be represented by the EU in international trade negotiations, the British and EU  representatives to the World Trade Organization have indicated to the other contracting parties how they will collaborate (see UK's Future Relationship with the World Trade Organization 16 Oct 2017).

It is said that progress in the negotiations has stalled over money and that may well be the case in the short term. In the long term, however, it is likely to be the absence of a means of holding the UK to account if it refuses to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Institute of Government considered a number of alternatives in Some Proposals for Dispute Resolution from the Institute for Government 8 Oct 2017 none of which is entirely satisfactory. As the issue has arisen first in the protection of citizens' rights, it is worth looking at HMG's Technical Note: Citizens; Rights - Administrative Procedures in the UK. I would not be attracted by those proposals if I were a negotiator for the EU 27. I think it is overly optimistic to expect a deal by December, but we shall see.

In the meantime, if you want to discuss this article or Brexit in general, call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

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