- The UK has agreed terms with the EU for the Brexit transition period which will last 21 months, ending on 31 December 2020. During the transition period, the UK will retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union, however the UK will lose their role in any of the decision-making institutions. The UK has accepted defeat on various points, for example European citizens who arrive in the UK during the transition period will receive the same rights as those European citizens who arrived prior to Brexit, this is contrary to the prime minister’s previous public insistence. The UK have also accepted a “back stop” plan to keep Northern Ireland under EU law, to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland (The Guardian).
- Trade bodies and business groups have broadly welcomed the Brexit transition deal terms and will allow businesses to plan ahead with a greater degree of confidence, following earlier consent around the lack of clarity relating to possible cost increases and the free movement of people following Brexit. However, concerns and criticisms were raised, highlighting that the UK has not given enough attention to the finer details and practical implications of the transition together and international banks still plan on relocating London staff, in order to provide seamless service to their clients (The Independent).
- Sterling value has risen to about $1.40 for the first time since February with optimistic expectations prior to the Brexit transition deal announcement (The Financial Times)
- Following Brexit, the UK government will face important decisions on harmonisation, trading partners and regulation. This will require expertise to make such decisions, notably scientific expertise in areas such as international trade, where scientific advice on manufacturing standards, food safety and environment protection will be necessary. However, it has been highlighted that there are potential shortfalls in the current arrangements, with chief scientific advisers already busy. It has been suggested that universities could assist with the potential gap between scientists and the government (The Guardian).
Please see below for today’s key Brexit news items:
- David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has said he “could live with” a 21-month transition period as Britain leaves the EU. He made the concession, demanded by commission negotiators, with EU talks in Brussels a week away. Davis told BBC Newsnight: “I’m not bothered too much about the question of whether it is Christmas 2020 or Easter 2021.” He said that getting a deal at next week’s council was “more important to me than a few months either way”. (The Guardian)
- Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes the stalemate with the UK government over its Brexit bill can be resolved. Scotland’s first minister was speaking as she left talks with Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street. The pair have been at loggerheads over what happens to powers in devolved areas when they return from Brussels after Brexit. Ms Sturgeon said the differences between them were “not insignificant, but neither are they insurmountable”. (The BBC)
- Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch group, said on Thursday that Brexit played no part in its decision to choose Rotterdam over London for its single legal base, as it sought to minimise political fallout from its biggest structural change in 89 years. Paul Polman, chief executive and a critic of Brexit, said of the year-long review: “I can categorically say that it has nothing to do with Brexit.” Both the UK and the Netherlands were “highly attractive investment planets”. (The Financial Times)
Please see below for today’s key Brexit news items:
- Ireland’s prime minister has warned that Brexit threatens the Good Friday agreement and could “drive a wedge” between Britain and Ireland. Leo Varadkar also sought to reassure unionists, who fear that his government is using the moment to push for a united Ireland, that he does not have “a hidden agenda”. (The Guardian)
- Holidaymakers are not being adequately informed of the risks that Brexit could pose to their plans when booking, the consumer group Which? has warned. With several of the UK’s biggest tour operators selling holidays for 2019, Which? said customers should be told of the possibility of flight disruption, and what compensation could be paid. (The Guardian)
- Some of Britain’s leading corporate bosses are expected to raise concerns about Brexit’s potential impact on their UK workforces during talks this week with Theresa May. Sky News understands that bosses from companies including BT, ITV, Legal & General, Lloyds Banking Group and Virgin Money have been invited to a meeting on Thursday with the Prime Minister. (Sky News)
- Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones, the Scottish and Welsh first ministers, tabled proposals to end months of deadlock over Brexit when they met the prime minister today. Theresa May hosted a summit at Downing Street with the two devolved governments, also attended by officials from Northern Ireland, to discuss a complex and controversial deal on redistributing powers around the UK after it leaves the EU. (The Guardian)
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said that Theresa May has still not given Brussels the information it needs to flesh out the EU’s relationship with the UK after Brexit. Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels, Mr Juncker said that “it is obvious that we need further clarity from the UK if we are to reach an understanding on our future relationship”. The comments reflect frustration in Brussels that a major speech by Mrs May earlier this month did not do more to recognise what EU capitals see as the inevitable sacrifices on market access that Britain will have to make, given its red lines such as leaving the single market and customs union. (Financial Times)
Brexit preparations have cost at least £400m in the current financial year, with the bill estimated to reach £2bn by Brexit day in March 2019, according to new research. The report by the Institute for Government (IfG) into Whitehall spending claims that after strict controls on departmental budgets, Philip Hammond is “loosening his purse strings”. Around half of the money will have been spent on staffing government departments, with the think-tank claiming that Brexit has reversed the staff reductions made in the civil service in the years before the EU referendum. (Independent)
Theresa May will hold private talks with the Scottish and Welsh first ministers on Wednesday in an effort to end the deadlock over their new powers after Brexit. May is urgently trying to resolve a heated dispute about Westminster’s plans to temporarily restrict law-making by the Scottish and Welsh governments over at least 24 EU powers which will be repatriated after Brexit. These areas – which are controlled by the EU but overseen by the devolved governments – include GM crops, pesticides regulation, organic farming, fishing quotas and food safety. The prime minister will host separate bilateral meetings with Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones after all three leaders hold a joint ministerial committee at Downing Street, underlining the pressure May is under to resolve the dispute before meeting other European leaders on Brexit next week. (The Guardian)