• MPS began the five days of debate on the EU Withdrawal agreement (BBC):The debate ended at 10.06pm this evening. It will resume tomorrow, and conclude with the meaningful vote next Tuesday evening.

 

  • May makes last-ditch Brexit move ahead of key vote (FT): Theresa May is to offer MPs a veto over the introduction of the so-called Northern Ireland backstop in a last-ditch attempt to limit the scale of an expected heavy House of Commons defeat for her Brexit deal next week. Downing Street confirmed the government would next week support an amendment by Tory grandees giving MPs control over the introduction of the Irish backstop, which aims to avoid a hard border through a “temporary” UK/EU customs union. The amendment would require MPs to approve “the commencement of powers implementing the Northern Ireland backstop” or the extension of the transition period, which the EU has agreed could run until December 2022. It would also require the government to conclude talks on a future trade deal, or find alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border, within one year of the backstop coming into effect. EU diplomats have indicated they could tolerate the move because it was intended for domestic consumption and would not change Britain’s international treaty obligations.

 

  • MPs vote to force Theresa May to present Brexit ‘plan B’ (FT): The Commons voted 308 to 297 in favour of an amendment from pro-EU MPs that gives the prime minister just three sitting days to present a plan B if parliament votes against her deal. If the vote goes ahead as scheduled on Tuesday January 15, she would have until the following Monday, January 21, to produce a fallback plan. Mrs May’s team had expected the amendment, championed by former attorney-general Dominic Grieve, to be discarded for procedural reasons. But the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, ruled that MPs should have the chance to vote on it.

 

  • Treasury committee slams government over Brexit response (FT): The head of the Treasury committee slammed the government for refusing to shed more light on its assessment of the economic effects of Brexit. The Treasury Committee, comprising both Brexiter and Remainer MPs, had complained in December that the government’s Brexit economic assessments contained no analysis of the Northern Irish backstop and no short-term assessment of the economic consequences.  Following a testy evidence session with Mr Hammond, the chancellor agreed to respond fully to the MPs’ concerns, but in a letter published on Wednesday, he said the government’s economic model was not suited to short-term analysis and the backstop was intended to be temporary so it was not a specific outcome the Treasury was able to model accurately.

 

  • Businesses to demand emergency measures if MPs reject Brexit deal (Guardian): Business leaders will call for a series of emergency measures to cushion the blow of the UK crashing out of the EU if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is not ratified in a critical parliamentary vote next week. The Freight Transport Association, which represents big businesses including supermarkets and logistics companies who depend on the Dover-Calais route, has prepared a shopping list of critical “mini-deals” it says the government must urgently seek from Brussels to ensure Britain keeps trading. Top of the list are enough permits for lorry drivers to continue to transport goods, and a concrete no-deal aviation plan to keep cargo flights running. It is also calling for an “approved exporter system” to enable companies to avoid having to fill in documents for each consignment they export or import and to strive to act as “one government at the border”. The Road Haulage Association has said the existing government customs declarations forms, for example, are so long and impractical it would take eight hours to clear an average lorry travelling from Calais to Dover.

 

  • DUP dismisses May’s Brexit pledge to consult Stormont as meaningless (Guardian): Theresa May’s attempts to woo the Democratic Unionist party with a pledge over the contentious backstop have failed after the party branded the proposals as “cosmetic and meaningless”. With less than a week to go to the critical parliamentary vote on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the government appears no closer to securing the 10 votes of the DUP MPs needed to get the deal over the line.

 

Author

Jessica's practice focuses on international trade and anti-bribery work, encompassing customs, export control and sanctions matters. Jessica's trade work includes advising international clients on fast-moving and evolving EU and UN sanctions, notably in respect of Iran and Russia, and on compliance with UK and EU export controls. Her trade experience also includes advising on tariff classification and customs valuations. Jessica's anti-bribery experience includes assisting with investigations, and advising clients on compliance with anti-bribery laws. Jessica has also taken a lead role in monitoring Brexit-related developments; analysing how they will affect the UK's trading position generally, and clients' businesses specifically. She has helped clients begin to conduct risk assessments of how Brexit will impact their businesses, and has assisted them in developing tailored Brexit strategies. Jessica also presents at various seminars, webinars, and conferences on the complexities of Brexit. Jessica advises global clients on complex issues arising from international transactions and works with clients across a number of sectors including pharmaceuticals, defence, finance, aviation, energy, and telecommunications. Jessica has also worked previously in Paris, and is fluent in French.

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