|Results of the 2019 General Election|
Licence CC BY-SA 4.0
Having won the 2019 general election, the government has the votes to enable the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill to pass without substantial amendment. It is therefore likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union at 23:00 on 31 Jan 2020 upon the terms of the draft withdrawal agreement of 19 Oct 2019. I discussed the Bill in European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill Second Time Round on 22 Dec 2019 and the agreement in The Revised Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on 21 Oct 2019.
While that is not the outcome for which many businesses, politicians and individuals had hoped and campaigned since the 2016 referendum, it does at least bring certainty. The UK's departure from the EU on 31 Jan 2020 will be followed by an 11 month implementation period during which EU law will remain in force at the end of which there will be a new relationship with the 27 remaining EU member states. The precise nature of that relationship is not yet clear but the parties have agreed a Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Clause 33 of the Bill will insert a new s.15A into the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 which will prevent ministers from agreeing to any extension of the implementation period. Previous free trade agreements between the EU and third countries have taken years to negotiate. While there is nothing to prevent negotiations on a new relationship between the UK and EU from continuing after the 31 Dec 2020 the legal framework between the parties that is to be preserved by the withdrawal agreement will fall away at the end of this year unless something is agreed to continue or replace it. That could be just as disruptive for businesses and individuals in the UK and the remaining member states as British withdrawal from the EU without a withdrawal agreement would have been.
Over the coming months, this publication will monitor negotiations between the UK and EU on the future relationship. It will report changes in the law, particularly those relating to intellectual property. It will look out for any opportunities that may arise from the UK's departure from the EU such as new trade agreements with the USA and other countries.
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