Brexit Briefing: Where Are We?

Brexit Briefing 2: 27 March 2018

On 22 March 2018, the Prime Minister attended the EU Council meeting. Earlier in the week the UK and EU negotiating teams reached agreement on the terms of an implementation period that will start on 30 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020.

The deal reached aims to protect our economic and security cooperation, and contains a number of key aims:

  • We will be free to negotiate, ratify and sign trade deals with new partners, while continuing to benefit from the EU’s existing agreements during the period. The UK will also be able to prepare for its future arrangements in respect of fishing opportunities through specific consultation and engagement mechanisms.
  • We will bring into force ambitious new arrangements on foreign policy and defence cooperation as soon as possible - and the UK will be able to choose not to apply EU decisions we disagree with. We will be able to join new security measures where it makes sense to do so, bridging to the future security partnership.
  • On dispute resolution. The Withdrawal Agreement will be underpinned by a duty of good faith, with a Joint Committee in place enabling either side to raise issues or concerns. These arrangements will help ensure that the implementation period works properly for both sides.
  • On Citizens rights. We have reached an important settlement. From the start of the implementation period, we will be able to register those arriving in order to help prepare for our future immigration system. This will be a notable difference to how things are now. We have also secured a reciprocal deal, which secures the rights of citizens on both sides up to the end of the period.
  • On Northern Ireland. Both sides stand by the commitments they have made to avoid a hard border while protecting the integrity of the UK internal market. We agreed to faithfully translate all these commitments, including the 'backstop' solution, into legal text.

CONTROVERSY: Will we leave the Common Fisheries Policy and take back control of our waters?

We have secured safeguards in the agreement to protect the interests of British fishermen. The revised text clarifies that the UK’s share of catch cannot be reduced during the implementation period and that the UK can attend international negotiations. Furthermore, the agreement includes an obligation on both sides to act in good faith throughout the implementation period. Any attempts by the EU to harm the UK fishing industry would breach that obligation. In December 2020 we will be negotiating fishing opportunities as a third country and independent coastal state, deciding who can access our waters and on what terms for the first time in over 40 years.  

 

Brexit Briefing 1

Brexit is the defining issue of this Parliament, probably the defining issue of the decade. It is complicated and intense, just like any negotiation, and there will be ups and downs and we must be prepared for that. Whether people voted Leave or Remain, we need a Brexit deal that works for the whole country and for it to happen as smoothly as possible.

Phase one of the EU UK agreement has been completed. The agreement secures the rights of the three million EU citizens living here and the million British citizens living in the EU, and represents a fair settlement of the accounts.

We will maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland, which has operated since the 1920s, and this agreement sets out both sides’ determination to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, while respecting the integrity of the UK single market. This is now a good deal for citizens, for taxpayers and for all parts of the United Kingdom that will allow us to get on to the vital trade negotiations and get quick agreement to an implementation period in the best interests of people and businesses in the UK as we leave EU.

But it must be remembered nothing is yet written down in stone. In the Government’s own words: ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.

Talks are now moving on to future relations - and a plan for a two-year "transition" period to smooth the way to post-Brexit relations.

Both the UK and the EU are keen on the idea of there being a period of time after 29 March, 2019, to get everything in place and allow businesses and others to prepare for the moment when the new post-Brexit rules between the UK and the EU begin. It also allows more time for the details of the new relationship to be fully hammered out. The EU wants the transition period - during which they think things should continue pretty much as they do now - to last until 31 December 2020.

The UK wants a slightly longer period of "about two years," or "as long as it takes" to set up new systems. Free movement looks set to continue during that period and the UK may have to abide by new laws from Brussels, without any input in how they are created. Again, a final agreement has yet to be reached, however.

Do we yet know how everything is going to pan out in the long term? The blunt answer to that is NO.

Negotiations about future relations between the UK and the EU will start if and when the transitional phase has been agreed. Both sides hope that can be done in March, to allow six months of talks to agree the outline of future relations on things like trade, travel and security. If all goes to plan this deal could then be given the go ahead by both sides in time for 29 March 2019. Theresa May delivered a big speech setting out her thoughts on the UK and EU's future relations on 2 March, 2018.

I will keep you updated as the Brexit negotiations progress.