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This week in Brexit: 12 – 18 November

Posted by Lotty Reeves on 19th November 2018

Keep up to date with the latest developments and decisions with our Brexit Breakdown, keeping you in know with all things that could affect the business sector.

A jargon free summary of the last week in politics, all in one place. 

Monday 12 November 2018

  • HR body, the CIPD, has said its research among 1,000 employers suggests that vacancies are becoming much harder to fill as the number of migrants coming to the UK falls (source link).
  • Multiple cabinet ministers expressed significant doubts about the Prime Minister’s preferred Brexit plan when it was first discussed and approved by the cabinet back in July 2018.  Separately, two ministers have told the BBC that they believe there is little chance the deal would be approved by Parliament (source link).
  • Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney stated that the Brexit negotiations had entered “a very critical and sensitive stage”, with the Northern Ireland backstop remaining the major obstacle to a withdrawal agreement. The Foreign Minister reiterated the EU/Irish position that the backstop must be legally binding and “in place unless and until another solution is found” (source link).
  • The EU is reported to be pushing for UK to accept detailed “level playing field” provisions to be included in the withdrawal agreement to ensure the UK and UK companies do not gain  an unfair competitive advantage during any backstop arrangement (source link) .
  • Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary, stated that Parliament would not allow the UK to leave the EU without a deal if MPs voted down the final deal negotiated by the government. However, it is not clear what would happen in the event of any final withdrawal agreement being rejected by Parliament (source link).
  • The Spanish newspaper EL País has reported that the owner of British Airways, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), is seeking the support of the Spanish government in the event of a disorderly Brexit. Under EU rules, airlines must be majority EU-owned and controlled in order to be able to qualify for operating licenses. However, after Brexit IAG could fall below 51% threshold threatening the operating licences of the group’s other airlines, such as Iberia and Air Lingus (source link).   
  • Terry Sargeant, chairman and CEO of ThyssenKrupp, has said Brexit is a complete shambles which is putting jobs at risk. On the Conservative Party, Mr Sargeant stated that the party had failed business and was making decisions to prevent the party from imploding over the issue. ThysseenKrupp is one of the largest German industrial firms in the UK (source link).  
  • John Whittingdale, Conservative MP and former cabinet minister, has suggested that the Prime Minister would have to step down if she “staked her credibility” on a deal which could not command the confidence of MP’s (source link).
  • Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has predicted that there will be another UK referendum on the EU and that the British people should have the right to have the final say on UK’s relationship with the EU (source link).
  • Lord Kerr, the man who drafted the Article 50 provision, has told BBC’s World at One that the UK could extend the date for its departure from the EU. The UK is currently scheduled to leave the EU  on 29 March 2019 (source link). 
  • The Prime Minister has stated that the Brexit negotiations were “in the endgame” and that EU and UK negotiators were working extremely hard and through the night to get a deal (source link).   

Tuesday 13 November 2018

  • David Lidington, the de factor deputy prime minister, has stated that a Brexit deal is “almost within touching distance” and could be concluded within 48 hours, although, a deal within 48 hours was not definite (source link). 
  • Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, has reportedly told colleagues that the government will start implementing contingency plans for a no-deal outcome, if no progress is made in the Brexit negotiations (source link). 
  • Premier Foods, owner of brands such Bisto, Oxo and Mr Kipling, has said it intends to stockpile raw materials in the run-up to Brexit as fears grow over gridlock at UK ports. Brexit preparations are expected to cost the company up to £10 million  (source link).
  • Sources reporting that the withdrawal agreement has been agreed between the UK and EU negotiators. Report suggest that the cabinet will meet tomorrow to approve the draft deal (source link). 
  • The Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, reporting that cabinet ministers were being called into No.10 to see the prime minister in one on one meetings tonight ahead of the full cabinet meeting tomorrow to sign off on the draft withdrawal agreement (source link).    

Wednesday 14 November 2018

  • Cabinet approved the draft withdrawal agreement, after a marathon five-hour cabinet meeting. Nine minister were said to have spoken out against the draft withdrawal agreement during the discussions (source link). 
  • The draft 585 page withdrawal agreement is published, along with the 7 page political declaration outlining what the UK and EU’s future relations will look like (source link). 
  • The DUP, upon whom the Conservative government relies upon for its majority, have described the government’s deal as “poor” and warned the government that they would not be able to support the draft agreement which separated Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK (source link). 
  • EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, welcomed the decision of the UK cabinet to back the draft withdrawal agreement, paving the way for the EU Council president, Donald Tusk, to convene a special summit of EU leaders to approve the draft deal  (source link).

Thursday 15 November 2018

  • Donald Tusk, the president of the EU Council, announced that a special summit of the EU heads of governments meeting will be held on Sunday 25 November to sign off on the final draft of the withdrawal agreement (source link).
  • Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, resigns from the government saying he is unable to support the withdrawal agreement approved by the cabinet. Prompting sterling to plunge 1.3 per cent  (source link).
  • Ester McVey, the work and pensions secretary, also resigned from the government stating that the withdrawal agreement did not honour the result of the referendum or redlines the prime minister had set down. In total the government lost 4 ministers and two private parliamentary secretaries (source link). 
  • Number of Tory MP’s, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, submit letters of no-confidence in the prime minister raising the possibility of a no-confidence vote in the Theresa May’s leadership. However, the prime minister has vowed to fight on (source link). 
  • EU leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have dismissed any suggestions that the draft withdrawal agreement can be renegotiated stating that the withdrawal agreement was the only document on the table (source link).  

Friday 16 November 2018

  • Boss of the engineering giant Rolls-Royce has urged politicians to get behind a “practical plan” for Brexit. Warren East said time was running out and any deal was better than a no-deal. Mr East stated he was no more certain on what will happen after Brexit than he was before the draft withdrawal agreement was approved by the cabinet and said Rolls-Royce would continue with its contingency plans including stockpiling parts (source link).
  • Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP’s chief whip in Westminster, has stated that this party will vote against the draft withdrawal agreement and would review the DUP-Tory pact of supporting the Conservative government in key votes if the withdrawal agreement passed Parliament (source link). 
  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear the government’s appeal on whether the European Court of Justice can hear a case on whether the Article 50 notification can be unilaterally withdrawn by the UK (source link).
  • Steve Baker, deputy chair of the European Research Group, stated that the chairman of the 1922 Committee was pretty close to receiving the 48 letters required to trigger a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister Theresa May (source link). 
  • Leading Brexiteer Tories, including Michael Gove and Liam Fox, pledged their support for the prime minister (source link).
  • Stephen Barclay was appointed new the Brexit Secretary. However, the remit of the Department for Exiting the European Union has been reduced to focus on the domestic preparations for the UK’s departure from the EU, with the prime minister personally assuming responsibility for remaining negotiations with the EU (source link). 
  • Germany’s Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, stated that preparations for a hard Brexit needed to continue (source link).  

Saturday 17 November 2018

  • Cabinet ministers, including Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling, are reported to be hoping that the draft withdrawal agreement can be amended (source link).

Sunday 18 November 2018

  • Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, has stated he has not yet received the 48 letters required to trigger a no-confidence vote in the prime minister and believed the prime minister would “very likely” win should any vote of no-confidence be held (source link). 
  • Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has said that a new referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU is “an option for the future” but “not……..[one] for today”. He confirmed that Labour would vote against the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated by the government (source link).
  • Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Sottish National Party, confirmed that the party’s MP’s would vote against the draft withdrawal agreement (source link).
  • Theresa May has said ousting her as leader and prime minister would not make delivering Brexit any easier, as she attempted to sell her draft withdrawal agreement to the country and MP’s (source link).   

Just as the EU and UK are preparing for Brexit, so to should businesses. If you need advice or would like to discuss the possible risks/opportunities Brexit bring to your business, speak to our team – 01642 610300.

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