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Brexit in a page - what do I need to know? 28 February 2020

Brexit expert Jacqui Bickerton summarises all you need to know about Brexit

Weekly reflection

Key dates

March 2020 Trade deal negotiations to commence

June 2020 Final date for the UK to request an extension to the transition period

June 2020 EU Summit to assess the progress of talks

26 November 2020 End date for the trade deal to be finalised

31 December 2020 End of the transition period

Yesterday the UK government revealed its negotiation mandate for the talks with the EU that are due to commence next week.

The headlines include: 

  • unless a broad outline of a deal is agreed by June 2020, the UK may walk away from the negotiating table and focus on WTO terms;
  • the UK remain firm that they want to achieve a trade deal with the EU similar to the Canadian deal;
  • EU law and the European Court of Justice will have no place in the UK beyond December 2020; and
  • as the UK will become an independent coastal state at the end of 2020, there must be a separate agreement on fisheries.

The EU have also now published their negotiating mandate for the trade talks with the UK, insisting that both sides must agree to maintain a level playing field. The EU have demanded no reduction in common standards on the environment, food and labour laws.

The EU, ahead of the trade talks, have issued a warning to the UK’s financial services companies. Michel Barnier believes that the UK’s financial services sector must accept being “rule-takers” if they wish to have continued access to EU markets post-Brexit. Mr. Barnier also confirmed that the EU would not be willing to accept the risks from banks who retain their profits in the UK and are operating under UK rules. Specifically, Mr. Barnier said “When the next financial crisis strikes, who will foot the bill? I doubt the UK will foot it for the EU. That’s why the EU must take responsibility for its financial regulation, supervision and financial stability”.

The UK government have recently released details of the new immigration rules which are set to be in place on 1 January 2021. Under the scheme, low skilled workers are unlikely to be able to settle in the UK if they arrive beyond the date for implementation of the rules. This has led to concerns being raised about vulnerable EU citizens being forced into modern slavery. The East European Resource Centre has voiced its fears that businesses will be content to hire workers who are undocumented in the event of a shortage of low skilled workers. During 2018 nearly 7,000 people were referred to the National Crime Agency as potential modern slavery victims. The UK government believes that there are however sufficient numbers of EU citizens already in the UK to supply the low-skilled end of the workforce.

Barclaycard and YouGov have revealed the positive results of a recent survey of SMEs who predict average revenue growth of 6.3% over the next 12 months. London businesses are anticipating a 6.5% growth. Businesses have reported that their supply chains and cash flows are stable and they remain confident about the next trading year.

Meanwhile, the President of the National Farmers Union, Minette Batters has called on the government to refrain from signing a trade deal that would allow the UK to import foods that are illegal to produce in the UK, citing chlorinated chicken as an example. Ms. Batters is lobbying the government to ensure that the Agricultural Bill reflects her demands. Specifically, Ms. Batters said “We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung”.

To discuss any concerns about how Brexit may impact your business, please contact Jacqui Bickerton or visit our Brexit Hub to find out more. 

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