On 23 June 2016, the UK voted in a historic referendum on whether it should exit or remain in the European Union. It was announced that the UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. Leave won the majority of votes in England and Wales, while every council in Scotland saw remain majorities.
Brexit is fast approaching. To help our members navigate the implications of Brexit for their businesses, the Chamber is delighted to announce a special partnership with Eversheds Sutherland to provide members with the latest information and insight. Over the coming months, we’ll bring you the latest developments through a series of e-briefings, webinars, breakfast briefings and other events.
Upcoming Eversheds Sutherland Events
The first event will be a webinar hosted by Eversheds Sutherland. Members will shortly receive an invitation to what promises to be an interesting and informative event.
This morning the Chamber held a breakfast briefing in partnership with Eversheds Sutherland. Ros Kellaway and Adam Ferguson provided a detailed picture of the implications of Parliament’s rejection of Mrs May’s proposed package; the prospects for the upcoming parliamentary votes, the remaining options for Brexit arrangements, and the practical implications for Hong Kong businesses and investors with interests in the UK.
Key concerns surrounding the deal include:
- No unilateral exit from the Irish backstop
- Remaining in or leaving the Customs Union
- Continued indirect EU Court of Justice jurisdiction and EU’s continued ability to impose rules on UK
- UK’s ability to enter into free trade agreements
- Paying €39bn but no guarantee of a trade deal
There are a number of possible outcomes, such as leaving without a deal, amending the withdrawal agreement, MP’s implementing a new motion for a second referendum, “Norway for Now”, Canada Plus, or delaying or revoking Article 50.
But as things stand, the default position is for the UK to leave the EU on 29th March 2019 with no deal. As such, one thing that is clear from this morning’s discussion is that businesses should start their contingency planning for a hard Brexit if they haven’t already.
Click here to view the full presentation.
On 19 December 2018, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced that it started implementing its “no deal” contingency action plan, as a result of the uncertainty about whether the UK will approve the Withdrawal Agreement next month. It published a new package of 14 measures to prepare for a “managed” no deal Brexit, which it says are “absolutely necessary to protect the vital interests of the EU and where preparedness measures on their own are not sufficient”. The measures are limited to specific areas including financial services, air transport, customs and climate policy, amongst others, and are to be time-limited.
Read the full article here.
16/11/18: Brexit – How did we get here and what happens next?
On 13 November 2018 (almost twenty-nine months since the vote), it was reported that the terms of a draft Withdrawal Agreement had been agreed. However, the agreement must be approved by the UK Parliament, which represents a major hurdle to an orderly Brexit. Whether the Prime Minister will be able to muster sufficient support for the deal struck with the European Commission remains to be seen. Unless an extension to the notice period is agreed, the UK will leave the EU at 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019 (either with or without a deal).
In this article, Eversheds Sutherland explores what the key terms of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement are, what may happen next and the implications for Chamber members.
Read the full article here
14/11/18: The CBI has given its response on Cabinet backing for the draft Withdrawal Agreement as part of the Article 50 process.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:
“After 20 months of debate, this agreement by Cabinet is progress. If passed, it moves the UK one step away from the nightmare precipice of no deal and the harm it would cause to communities across the country. Securing a transition period has long been firms’ top priority and every day that passes without one means lost investment and jobs, hitting the most vulnerable hardest. Time is now up. This deal is a compromise, including for business, but it offers that essential transitional period as a step back from the cliff-edge."
14/11/18: The British Chambers of Commerce comments on Brexit agreement
Commenting on the announcement from the Prime Minister that the Cabinet has backed the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU27, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Businesses will recognise the huge efforts made by the Prime Minister and across government to reach this milestone.
“With people’s livelihoods and the future prospects for many companies in the balance, this is not the time for snap judgments. Businesses will be looking carefully and deliberately at the real-world implications of this agreement over the coming days, and expect their elected representatives to do the same."
Ros Kellaway, head of Eversheds Sutherland’s Brexit practice, outlines the key features of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. The UK Parliament is likely to vote on these in the coming weeks.
In this video, Ros examines some of the key details, including:
- The protected status and rights of UK citizens living and working in the EU and vice versa
- The set of procedures that intend to ensure an orderly exit
- Details of the transition period
- The methodology for calculating the financial settlement
- Details on how disputes related to the withdrawal agreement will be resolved
The protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been difficult to negotiate and one of the key questions is whether the UK can withdraw from the backstop after the transition period. The UK can request for an extension of the transition period, but what are the possible implications?
What about the future free trade agreement? The political declaration outlines what a future free trade partnership will look like once the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. But how this will be achieved is up for debate.
Click here to watch this short video to hear more from Ros Kellaway.
Andrew Seaton, Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, talks to CNBC about the opportunities and challenges for businesses here in Hong Kong surrounding Brexit, and those wanting to invest in the UK.
Click here to watch the full interview
Ros Kellaway, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland
Ros is head of Eversheds Sutherland’s Competition, EU and Trade Group and has been a Partner in Eversheds Sutherland’s commercial practice since 1989. She specialises in cartels, competition investigations, distribution and market studies/investigations, and also advises on all aspects of EU law.
Ros is also one of Eversheds Sutherland's specialist Brexit lawyers.