Please see below for today’s update on key Brexit news items:
- Today’s General Debate in the House of Commons concerned “exiting the EU and sanctions”. Robin Walker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, put forward the Government’s position. They defended the delay in producing the Sanctions Bill, due to the delays brought about by the general election. In particular, Alan Duncan stated that although the UK is obliged to implement UN sanctions, it faces political choices over whether to implement EU sanctions, and it will not implement EU policies where they are not justified. He also noted that the consultation had emphasised how delays associated with the full affirmative procedure for approving sanctions can lead to asset flight and that this will be taken into account when the Sanctions Bill is produced.
- The Serious Fraud Office has warned that Brexit could hamper its future ability to investigate and prosecute serious crime. The SFO’s annual report, published today, noted that there could be an “adverse affect” from loss of access to “EU measures and tools”, in part due to the loss of European arrest warrants. The UK will automatically fall out of the European arrest warrant system after it leaves the EU in March 2019, and it remains unclear what replacement steps will be taken. (Mlex)
- The UK’s exit charge for leaving the EU has emerged as the toughest obstacle over the past two days of negotiations. The EU estimates the charge to be worth up to €100bn gross, and it formed an impasse during two slow days of negotiations. Margaret Thatcher’s prized “rebate” on EU budget contributions was pulled into the negotiations as frustration mounted. The “UK correction” secured by Thatcher in 1984 means the UK receives an annual reduction in its contributions that in any given year is equivalent to 66% of the UK’s net contribution in the previous year. (FT)
- Theresa May will this week launch a new advisory group designed to respond to concerns of the business community and trade bodies as Brexit negotiations gather pace. Her office said that the Prime Minister will chair the first in a regular series of the new council in Downing Street on Thursday, at which terms of Brexit and the Government’s wider industrial strategy would be discussed with representatives of some of Britain’s biggest firms. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Business Secretary Greg Clark, and Brexit minister Robin Walker will join the meeting, as will Ralf Speth, chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover, Tesco’s Dave Lewis and Prudential’s Paul Manduca. (The Independent)
- Theresa May has been urged to review the gender balance of the Government’s EU negotiating team in a letter signed by 56 female Labour MPs who say: “Brexit is now becoming just another job for the boys.” The signatories, including Seema Malhotra, Yvette Cooper, Harriet Harman and Labour’s women and equalities minister, Sarah Champion, argue that leaving the EU will have a significant impact on the lives of the whole population, yet there is only one woman among the nine senior civil servants listed by the Department for Exiting the EU as members of the core team for the two years of talks. (The Guardian)
- Simon Coveney, Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs and trade, has revealed that demand for Irish passports in the UK has jumped by 50% since the Brexit vote. More than 100,000 Irish passports were issued in the UK in the year to June 2017, up from 65,000 in 2016, according to figures released on Wednesday. The rush for Irish passports to secure EU citizenship following Brexit has brought about a 59% surge in applications in Northern Ireland and a 44% increase across Britain. (The Guardian)