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Brexit in a page - what do I need to know? | 15 March 2019

A summary of this week's Brexit advancements

Weekly reflection

Key dates

14 March
Parliament’s vote on whether the UK should seek an extension to Article 50

W/C 18 March
Third meaningful Parliamentary vote on the withdrawal deal.

29 March
UK legally leaves the European Union in the absence of an extension or legislative change.

  • What an eventful week we have seen with many different votes. The first vote on Tuesday saw the withdrawal deal being voted down for a second time by 391 to 242, a majority of 149.
  • Wednesday brought the parliamentary vote against leaving the European Union without a deal. Following amendments to the motion, MPs voted by 312 to 308 to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. The Parliamentary vote is not legally binding however and the withdrawal legislation would need amendment to reflect the outcome of this vote.
  • A third vote will take place in Parliament this evening on whether the UK should request an extension to Article 50 from the European Union. This vote is likely to pass through. However, what type of extension can the UK expect? Will an extension be granted at all? Alternatively, will an extension be granted with conditions?
  • The European Council President, Donald Tusk has announced that he is to appeal to the bloc to offer up a long extension to Article 50 to facilitate the UK’s ‘rethink’ of its goals for the withdrawal negotiation. However, the European Union elections commence on 23 May 2019 and if a longer extension is accepted by Theresa May then the UK will be obliged to take part in the elections. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party has urged Theresa May to accept a long extension and rethink her approach to the withdrawal deal.
  • It is also rumoured today that Theresa May will bring back her withdrawal deal to Parliament next week for a third meaningful vote. At this stage, the withdrawal deal is unlikely to be amended at all when it is voted on for a third time.
  • In other news, the Interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, Edwin Morgan, has written to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, urging him to make provision for small businesses to receive Brexit vouchers for legal and professional advice. The vouchers, with a value in the region of £2,000 to £3,000 could be exchanged for legal advice on Brexit preparations for smaller businesses.
  • The City of London’s financial district has been a hive of activity for some time now as a result of Brexit. New Financial, a London based think tank has reported that 269 UK based financial firms have set up new hubs to include relocating staff within the European Union. They are refusing to wait any longer to see if Brexit happens and have implemented their contingency plans.
  • It has also been reported this week that Prudential has spent £27 million preparing for Brexit to include establishing itself in Luxembourg. Its customers’ assets worth in the region of £37 billion have been transferred to the new hub.
  • This week has seen fluctuations in sterling. Following the parliamentary vote on Wednesday evening rejecting a no-deal Brexit in all circumstances the pound gained, rising as much as almost three cents against the US dollar. The pound was also up by two cents against the Euro, achieving a new 22 month peak. Goldman Sachs said “We now see a 60% chance (up from 55%) that a close variant of the prime minister’s current Brexit deal is eventually ratified”.
  • The Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes has given evidence to the EU home affairs subcommittee in the House of Lords, stating that some type of post-Brexit ID card system for may be a way of tackling the sheer complexity of residence rules once free movement ends. The idea originates from talks with EU nationals groups in the UK. Caroline Nokes told the subcommittee, during cross examination, that a no-deal Brexit would bring particular complexity in working out whether or not an EU national had the right to stay in the UK.

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