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Brexit in a page - 20 December 2019

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

Key dates

20.12.2019 - First and Second reading in the House of Commons of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill

31.01.2020 - UK to leave the EU

30.06.2020 - The deadline for extending the transition period ceases

31.12.2020 - Deadline for the trade deal to be negotiated with the EU

01.01.2021 - New immigration rules implemented

Weekly reflection

  • Yesterday saw the state opening of Parliament and the Queen’s speech. In relation to Brexit it was confirmed that the Government’s priority is to deliver Brexit on 31 January 2020 and it will bring forward legislation (in the form of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill) to secure the UK’s departure from the EU on that date. Thereafter the trade negotiations will commence not only with the EU but also with non-EU countries.
  • As to the trade negotiations, the EU Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen has expressed concern about the lack of time in which to reach agreement with the UK. Whilst the EU intend to make the most of the time in 2020 for negotiations Ursula von der Leyen said “In case we cannot conclude an agreement by the end of 2020 we will face again a cliff-edge situation and this would clearly harm our interests but it will impact the UK more than us as the EU will continue benefiting from its single market, its customs union and the 70 international agreements we signed with our partners – but it’s clearly not in our interest”.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (not yet published) is expected to grant power to UK courts lower than the Supreme Court to depart from previous EU court rulings. This discretion is currently only afforded to the Supreme Court. The move is reportedly an attempt to take back control of UK laws post Brexit.
  • Apropos, a property management company have reported a downturn in house price growth since the Brexit referendum. Prior to the referendum UK house prices increased by 26.2% over a 40-month period. Post Brexit referendum up to September 2019 (40 months) house prices have increased by 10.1%.
  • Meanwhile the CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn has confirmed the CBI’s support of the Government in securing a trade deal as quickly as possible with the EU, stating that businesses have had enough of uncertainty. The CBI have also opposed any further extension to the transition period.
  • In response to the UK’s Prime Minister’s refusal to extend the transition period beyond 31 December 2020, the French President, Emmanuel Macron has issued a warning to the UK about remaining loyal to EU standards post Brexit to ensure UK businesses can maintain access to the EU market. Specifically, President Macron said “If the British prime minister and the British parliament want an ambitious trade deal, they know where the European standards are … the more they are attracted to reducing standards – on climate, social standards or anything else – the more they walk away from the European market, the more they will be away from us.”.
  • Wednesday saw the pound tumble sharply following the proposed legislation to block any extension to the transition period. The financial markets reacted as the message prompted discussions about the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal on 31 December 2020.
  • This week also saw the announcement of a 4% drop in car manufacturing in the UK in October 2019 compared to October 2018. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported that out of the last 17 months of production, 16 months has produced a decline in the build of new cars. Further, warnings have been issued about further slashing of car production by one third if the UK leaves the EU without an ambitious trade deal.

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