Brexit update

Brexit update


UK general election on December 12th

Updated October 29th, 2019

MPs have now voted to have a general election on Thurday, December 12th. BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg confirms:

Brexit extension until January 31st, 2020

Updated October 28th, 2019


Brexit extension?

Updated October 27th, 2019

This week was intended to be the week that the UK finally exited the EU, ‘deal or no deal’. There is a deal, of course, but while the UK Parliament passed the ‘second reading’ of the Bill, it failed to support the government’s timetable for passing the Bill into law.

So, the options facing the UK government are either to give parliament the necessary time to scrutinise the Bill, or put an end the current ‘hung’ parliament by calling a general election. The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has so far indicated his preference for an election, but this requires either a two thirds majority in the House of Commons (under the Fixed Term Act) or a simple ‘one line’ bill which only requires a simple majority. It looks highly unlikely that Parliament will vote for a general election given the fears of ‘remain’ MPs in ‘leave’ constituencies that they will lose their seats. If the government allows the withdrawal bill to go through its stages, the risk is that amendments will be put forward which, if carried, are likely to soften Brexit and would not be supported by more hard-line Brexiteers.

With this in mind, a general election looks the only way of moving forward, but the next ‘automatic’ date for an election is over two and a half years away, on May 5th, 2022. Meanwhile, much depends on the length of any further extension granted by the EU.

Withdrawal Bill approved

Updated October 22nd, 2019

UK MPs approved the EU withdrawal bill (Withdrawal Agreement Bill – WAB) last night by 329 votes to 299 on the ‘second reading’ of the bill, which is a vote on the principle of the bill.
This is the first time the UK Parliament has voted for any Brexit deal presented to it.

However, minutes later Parliament voted against the proposed timetable for getting the bill through its various stages.

 The Prime Minister has now paused the movement of the bill to its next stage while he waits for the EU to decide on the length of any extention it grants, and what strings might be attached.

The UK Government published its Withdrawal Bill yesterday, and Parliament was expected to debate it over the next three days. However, the government must now decide whether to push on with a revised (and longer) timetable, to allow more scrutiny in parliament, or whether to push for a general election in an attempt to increase its majoroty.

Copy of Withdrawal Bill.


New vote likely on Monday

Updated October 20th, 2019

Following the ‘pulling’ of the vote on Saturday, Members of Parliament will get a chance to vote for the new Brexit deal on Monday, October 21st.

UK Parliament to vote on the new deal

Updated October 19th, 2019

Members of the UK Parliament vote to day on the Brexit deal struck between the EU and the UK.

Follow events in the

House of Commons

See the

Order Paper

Brexit latest – deal agreed

Tweet from the PM.

Brexit deal on hold

Updated October 17th, 2019

Brexit talks have suffered a blow following a joint statement from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leaders, Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds, in which concern was expressed at the current proposals regarding customs arrangements, VAT and ‘consent’, and added that:

We will continue to work with the government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

Brexit deal close

Updated October 15th, 2019

Talks between UK and EU negotiators continued their discussions through the night, with hopes raised that a deal is close. Talks are due to continue today in advance of the EU summit on Thursday.

The aim today is the finalisation of the legal text of the deal which can then be put to EU leaders on Thursday, and to the UK Parliament on Saturday – as a result the pound surged overnight to a 5-month high against the US dollar ($1.2750). Failure to agree a deal means that the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, must ask the EU for an extension to the talks.

Are negotiations about to enter ‘the tunnel’?

Updated October 12th, 2019

Following positive talks last week between the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Brexit negotiations appear to be entering the famous tunnel as talks continue over the weekend.

This means a period of intensive talks where few details are made public until an agreement is reached (or when talks break down). It is not clear yet whether enough progress will be made before the  European Council meeting on the 17th and 18th of October.

It is also unclear exactly what concessions, if any, have been made around Northern Ireland and membership of the European Customs Union with some speculating that Northern Ireland will, in effect, collect EU tariffs, and pass these to the EU if and when the goods pass to Ireland, or provide a rebate when these goods remain in Northern Ireland or ship to the rest of the UK.

This arrangement will avoid the need for customs checks on the Irish border, and hence remove the need for a hard border with associated infrastructure. This will also mean that Northern Ireland, along with the rest of the UK, can take advantage of any trade deals following Brexit.

More details may emerge on Sunday 13th when EU ambassadors are briefed.

UK government’s Brexit proposal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has provided his long awaited proposal for exiting the EU by October 31st, 2019.

The plan involves two borders – one between Northern Ireland and the EU (the land border with Ireland) and one between Northern Ireland and the UK.

Northern Ireland will be aligned to the EU Single Market through an ‘all-Ireland regulatory zone’, and will follow its rules for agricultural goods and products. The Northern Ireland-EU border (the so-called north-south border) will involve customs checks away from the existing national border.

To allow trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK to flow (the so-called east-west border) there will be checks for goods crossing from Northern Ireland to the UK mainland – hence, Northern Ireland will trade within the UK’s customs ‘zone’.

The most significant stumbling block concerns how Brexit affects north-south trade – on one level trade should be as free as possible to ensure that the Belfast agreement is not jeopardised, but also that arrangements need to protect the integrity of the EU’s Single Market.

All IrelandregulatoryzoneUK customszoneEnglandScotlandNorthern IrelandIrelandWales

Mr Johnson believes that his plan, which involves
electronic checks away from the north-south border as well as physical checks at the
premises of traders, is a compromise that can help achieve both objectives,
so that north-south trade can flow without the need for a ‘hard’ border in
the traditional sense.

How might it work?

Video courtesy of The Telegraph

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, due to make EU an offer

See BBC’s interview with the UK Prime Minister.

UK’s Supreme Court rules that Parliament’s suspension was unlawful

Updated September 24th, 2019

The UK’s Supreme Court ruled today that the prorogation of the UK Parliament for five weeks was unlawful in that there was no valid reason for denying Parliament a voice, and that, as a result, the suspension is declared void and to no effect – in other words, Parliament has not been prorogued.

This was a unanimous decision of all 11 judges. It is now up to  Parliament to decide what to do next. The House of Commons Speaker will talk to party leaders to decide when the Houses of Parliament (the Houses of Commons, and Lords) will return.


UK parliament acts to prevent a no-deal Brexit

Updated September 4th, 2019

MPs, including 21 Conservative Party rebels, voted 328 to 301 to take control of the House of Commons agenda, which will allow them to bring a bill to request the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to ask for a delay to Brexit – beyond the October 31st exit date. This is likely to be countered today with a bill to force through a general election.

However, under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (2011) there must be a two thirds majority of MPs in favour, and it is highly unlikely that MPs will vote for this.

There are two possible reasons for this: firstly, the opposition and rebel MPs are worried that the election date will be set after the EU exit date, thereby allowing the UK to leave the EU by default. Secondly, many MPs will be deeply worried about their own position and will not take the risk of losing their seat at a general election. For many, backing the deal negotiated by former Prime Minister, Theresa May – already rejected three times – is beginning to re-emerge as a possible way forward.


UK parliament to be suspended

Updated August 28th 2019

The UK government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament from September 10th until October 14th, with the Queen’s Speech taking place immediately after the suspension is lifted.  

This comes a day after opposition parties joined forces to find legislative ways to stop a no-deal Brexit. The government is insisting that the suspension is to allow the new administration to set out their plans ahead of October 31st – the date when the UK leaves the EU.