Brexit: Turkeys voting for Christmas?

Vote

Brexit delayed again – now it’s off to the races in a General Election

Despite having finally achieved a Parliamentary majority in favour of a way of delivering Brexit, in the Second Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on 22nd October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided – in the face of Parliament’s refusal to allow him to put the Bill through very rapidly so as to meet the 31st October Brexit deadline – to pursue a General Election instead of pushing the Bill through.

After some “after you, Claude” to-ing and fro-ing, the EU agreed to the request to extend the Article 50 deadline of 31st October which the Prime Minister had been forced by Parliament to send. The EU did so under condition that there should be no re-opening of withdrawal negotiations, no disruption to EU business by the UK (including the UK appointing a member of the new European Commission), and that the UK could leave earlier if the ratification process completed earlier.

Continue Reading

Brexit – What Just Happened?

Brexit Tearing of Flags

The UK Parliament met on Saturday for the fourth time in the past century, on 19th October, to vote on the revised Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Prime Minister and his EU counterparts. The date mattered, because under the Benn Act the Prime Minister would have to seek an extension to the 31st October Brexit deadline unless Parliament had approved the deal by 19th October. In the event, the vote as such never happened. Instead, Parliament approved an amendment brought by one of the senior Conservatives expelled from the Parliamentary Party for supporting the Benn Act, Sir Oliver Letwin. The Letwin amendment was purportedly designed to prevent the risk of a “no deal” Brexit coming about between approval of the deal and 31st October – some major legislation has to get through Parliament before Brexit can legally happen, and if that legislation had failed to go through between 19th and 31st October, there would be a risk of an accidental “no deal” Brexit. By approving the Letwin amendment, Parliament postponed its approval of the deal until the legislation has passed, thus also triggering the requirement in the Benn Act for the Prime Minister to seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Continue Reading

So, What Happens Now? – An Update

Updated Post Now AvailablePlease note that this is an update to our blog post ‘Brexit – So What Happens Now?’, published on 8 October.

The UK Parliament was prorogued (i.e. suspended) again on Tuesday 8th October, but this time inside a week as is usual before a Queen’s Speech on 14th October which set out the Government’s agenda for the coming year. It all however had a slight air of unreality about it, as most observers think that there will have to be an election in the coming months – probably before the end of the year, and the Government anyway has no majority in Parliament with which to pursue its agenda. The real question is whether the election happens this side of Brexit or the other, and if the other side, will the UK have left the EU with or without a deal. Whichever comes first will undoubtedly have a significant impact on whichever comes after. And then there’s the referendum wild card…

The prorogation and subsequent Queen’s Speech debate did allow the Government some respite from Parliamentary maneuvering during which to try to make progress on finding a way forward with the EU. A meeting between the Prime Minister and the Irish Taoiseach met on 10th October gave new impetus to negotiations with the EU resumed in earnest on 11th October.

Continue Reading

Brexit – So What Happens Now?

Houses of Parliament

The UK Parliament will be prorogued (i.e. suspended) again on Tuesday 8th October, but this time inside a week as is usual before a Queen’s Speech on 14th October setting out the Government’s agenda for the coming year.  It all however has a slight air of unreality about it, as most observers think that there will have to be an election in the coming months – probably before the end of the year.  The real question is whether the election happens this side of Brexit or the other, and if the other side, will the UK have left the EU with or without a deal.  Whichever comes first will undoubtedly have a significant impact on whichever comes after.  And then there’s the referendum wild card…

The prorogation and subsequent Queen’s Speech debate will allow the Government some brief respite from Parliamentary maneuvering while they see whether the proposals they made at the beginning of the month can form the basis of a deal with the EU.  Judging by the EU’s early response, progress would require further concessions by the UK, which would be easier made without close Parliamentary scrutiny.

Continue Reading

Let Them Eat Cake (If We Coordinate) – Will UK Government Waive Competition Rules in Response to Food/Drink Shortages?

The possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and therefore the potential for food and drink supplies to be disrupted, has led to calls for the government to provide “cast-iron guarantees” that businesses in the food supply chain will be permitted to work together to discuss and tackle shortages, in order to decide where to prioritise shipments, in a way that may give rise to questions of compliance with competition law.

The Competition Act 1998 (the Act) prohibits anti-competitive agreements, in particular, agreements between competitors that fix prices, allocate customers/markets, rig bids and share competitively sensitive information. Companies found to have breached competition law can be fined by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) up to 10% of group global turnover, the agreements are void and unenforceable, and individuals involved can also face penalties, including prison and fines and director disqualification.

Continue Reading

Podcast: The Current State of Brexit

Listen to PodcastListen to Jeremy Cape discuss the latest state of play on Brexit with Tax Notes Talk host David Stewart, while exploring some of the possible outcomes over the coming months. Jeremy also elaborates on his recent column regarding how the Conservative Party approached issues of tax reform during the leadership contest over the summer.

Listen to the full podcast on the Tax Notes website.

Brexit Update – “A Week Is a Long Time in Politics”

Brexit Clock

“A week is a long time in politics” – Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister, in 1964

The first week of Parliamentary scrutiny for Boris Johnson’s Government has certainly lived up to Harold Wilson’s famous aphorism.  MPs returned from their summer break to the news that the Prime Minister intended to close down (“prorogue”) Parliament after one week until 14th October.  This spurred those opposed to a “no deal” Brexit into action, with the result that:

  • the Government’s working majority went from +1 to -45, caused by a few resignations of the party whip and the expulsion of 21 senior MPs for voting against the Government;
  • Parliament passed a law forcing the Prime Minister to seek an extension to the Article 50 deadline of 31st October unless he has secured a deal and had it approved by Parliament by 19th October;
  • the Government lost all six substantive votes during the week;
  • the Government twice failed to secure a decision for an early (mid October) election;  and
  • Parliament required the Government to publish its analysis of the impact of a “no deal” Brexit (the Government is likely to resist this) and some other internal documents.

Continue Reading

How Will Plans to End Free Movement Affect Your Current and Future EU Workforce?

The Home Office has recently issued a factsheet indicating that freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October 2019 and that arrangements for people coming to the UK for longer periods for work or study will change. Annabel Mace looks at what this means in practice and how employers should prepare.

Read the full article on our website.

Practical Steps for UK Businesses in Preparing For a No Deal Brexit

Brexit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promises that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October with “no ifs or buts”. With three months left until the UK is due to leave the EU, the Prime Minister states that he hopes to negotiate a better deal, but concern remains that the UK will leave the EU with no deal. Are UK businesses prepared for that? The majority are not.

Our UK restructuring team have published a post that considers the issues businesses may face if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, why they need to prepare and what steps they can take now.

Read the full post on our eSquire Global Crossings blog.

Brexit – Here We Go Again

Brexit Tearing of FlagsThe new Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, has taken up office following his decisive (66% : 34%) victory in the contest among Conservative Party members who were presented with a choice between him and the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. He promised during the campaign to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October (when the extension to the Article 50 Brexit process expires) “do or die”. In his first speech as PM, he again underlined his determination that the UK should leave the EU by 31 October. He said that his intention was that this should be with a new deal – “no deal” was a remote possibility which would only happen if the EU refused to negotiate. But it was right to intensify preparations for “no deal”, which could be lubricated by retaining the £39 billion financial settlement previously agreed with the EU.

So the starting gun for the next phase of Brexit has fired.

Continue Reading

LexBlog