• Deadline looms as ministers push for changes to deal – The UK’s attorney general says Brexit negotiations will continue as EU officials call for “acceptable” ideas by Friday to break the impasse. Geoffrey Cox said plans to solve the deadlock over the Irish backstop were “as clear as day”, with just days until MPs vote on the Brexit deal. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed the vote will be held on 12 March. Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned Brexiteers to vote for the deal or face delay to the UK’s exit from the EU. The backstop is an insurance policy designed to prevent physical checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Mr Cox, who was in Brussels on Tuesday to push for further changes to the Brexit deal, said talks will “almost certainly” continue through the weekend. He said there had been “careful discussions” with the EU and stressed it was government policy to seek the legal changes to the backstop. “We are discussing text with the European Union,” he said. (BBC)

 

  • May’s authority on the line as defeat on Brexit vote looms – Theresa May is making contingency plans for a crushing defeat of her Brexit deal next week, amid fears in Downing Street that her authority will be swept away in a series of humiliating Commons reverses. Mrs May is expected to make a dash to Brussels on Sunday — or even at dawn on Monday — as she tries to extract last-minute concessions from the EU that might turn parliamentary opinion in favour of her Brexit deal. But with talks deadlocked in Brussels the mood has darkened in Downing Street in the last 48 hours, as officials try to work out how to prevent events from spiralling out of Mrs May’s control next week. The EU has made counterproposals — based on legal reassurances — that fall far short of UK demands. Relations with Dublin, whose co-operation is vital for any deal, have also been complicated by comments by Mrs May’s Northern Ireland secretary that killings by the British military and police during the Troubles “were not crimes”. (FT)

 

  • Philip Hammond warns Eurosceptics over Brexit deal vote – Philip Hammond, the UK’s chancellor of the exchequer, has warned Conservative Eurosceptics that if they reject Theresa May’s deal to leave the EU they could end up with a softer form of Brexit. Mr Hammond, speaking on the BBC’s Today programme on Thursday, warned MPs to “think very, very hard” about the implications of rebelling against the leadership in a vote likely to take place on Tuesday. Julian Smith, the Tory chief whip, told the cabinet this week that there was a very real prospect — if next Tuesday’s vote fails — that the House of Commons would seize control of the departure process and force Britain into a softer arrangement. That speculation increased on Wednesday after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held talks in his Commons office with leading Tory and Labour MPs from the “Common Market 2.0” group pushing for a Norway-style deal that would mean Britain staying in the single market. (FT)

 

  • EU gives UK 48 hours to come up with new plan for backstop to break deadlock – The European Union has given the UK until tomorrow to come up with concrete proposals to change the backstop in order to break the Brexit deadlock. EU officials have reportedly given the Government 48 hours to table fresh proposals after talks between Geoffrey Cox and Michel Barnier failed to find a solution despite the fact MPs will vote on the Brexit deal on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a senior figure in Emmanuel Macron’s French government claimed the UK had not actually made a formal offer to the EU on proposed changes to the backstop. (Telegraph)

 

  • UK should offer new proposal, France’s Europe minister says – France’s Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, has urged Britain to offer fresh proposals to end the Brexit impasse, warning that uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU is affecting its neighbours. Loiseau, who met the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, in London on Thursday, said: “Everything we are living through is unprecedented and we clearly don’t want to lecture. But the clock is really ticking and I do think it would have been better for people and businesses to live in more certainty than they are today.” She added: “My feeling is that this is a historic moment, and you have to live up to the moment.” With the UK’s departure date of 29 March approaching, questions remain over whether Theresa May can get the troubled divorce deal through parliament at the final hour. EU countries, concerned about a possible no-deal Brexit, have stepped up contingency plans. (The Guardian)

 

  • Majority of UK’s non-EU trade deals still up in the air – Fewer than half of Britain’s deals with non-EU countries will have been rolled over by the country’s scheduled date of departure from the European bloc, the UK government has said. The Department of Exiting the European Union said that it had identified 161 agreements with non-EU countries — including trade and aviation deals — that would need to be updated after Brexit. Of those, 64 are certain or highly likely to be replicated by March 29 or shortly after, 64 may or may not be, and 33 definitely won’t be. The numbers are the most definitive guide yet on third-country agreements after Brexit. With 22 days to go to the scheduled date of Brexit, the UK government is also launching an online tracker to update businesses on the status of international agreements. (FT)

 

  • Millions face ‘Friday deadline’ to renew passports in case of no-deal, says Which? – Millions of UK holidaymakers have been warned they need to renew their passports by tomorrow or face being barred from entering several European countries under a no-deal Brexit. Up to 3.5 million people risk falling foul of rules for entering countries in the Schengen zone, such as France, Spain and Italy, according to consumer group Which?. The rules state that visitors from non-EU countries must have at least six months left on their passport before its expiry date on the day of travel. Until recently, UK citizens who renewed their passport before it expired could have up to nine months of the remaining validity added to their new travel document. (Sky News)

 

  • UK opts for broader flights access in no-deal exit – The UK government has said it will go beyond the terms offered by the EU on reciprocal access for airlines in a no-deal scenario, in order to minimise disruption to the industry. The EU has offered to maintain “basic connectivity” with restrictive two-way air-traffic if the UK reciprocated. The UK government said today it would “go further than symmetrical reciprocity,” by granting an EU-registered airline the right to fly to the UK from any EU member state, regardless of its home licensing. The UK will also offer cabotage rights to EU-based airlines until October 27. In addition, the UK won’t impose new restrictions on ownership of EU airlines. (MLex)
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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