• UK asks Supreme Court to rule on Scottish and Welsh Brexit laws – The UK government has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of emergency laws passed in March by the Scottish and Welsh parliaments that cut across the UK’s own EU withdrawal bill. The laws give Scotland and Wales control over areas such as fishing, farming and environmental policy. These powers were devolved in 1999 but have been exercised by Brussels as part of the UK’s membership of the EU. Theresa May’s government argues that it must have the final say over some areas of devolved policy in order to preserve the UK’s internal market, though the reality may be that this would make it easier for the UK government to seal new trade deals after Brexit. However, the repatriation of powers to Westminster would fuel criticism that the UK government does not respect the 1999 devolution settlement. (The Financial Times)
  • Failure to agree Brexit ‘backstop’ solution on Irish border – Ireland has warned there will be no Brexit withdrawal treaty and no transition agreement unless Britain comes up with acceptable wording as a “backstop” solution to the Irish border question in the event that there is no Brexit deal. The UK and the EU agreed three options on Northern Ireland in the joint report on Brexit signed in December; option A was that a solution would be found in the wider deal, option B was a bespoke arrangement and option C the backstop solution of full alignment of regulations on both sides of the border in the event of talks breaking down. When the EU translated option C into legal text, May said no prime minister could accept a draft that would involve Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union and the single market. (The BBC)
  • UK economy to perform worse than rest of Europe, except Italy – According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, Britain’s economy will perform worse than the rest of Europe, except Italy, over the next two years as it navigates Brexit. Higher barriers to trade and lower foreign direct investment following Brexit next year prevent the UK performing better, though the IMF recommended the Bank of England raise interest rates to keep a lid on stubbornly high inflation. The IMF expects the economy to slow from 1.9 per cent in 2016 and 1.8 per cent in 2017 to 1.6 per cent in 2018 and 1.5 per cent in 2019, as it expects companies to remain reluctant to invest heavily due to uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit talks. (The Financial Times)
  • “People’s Vote” campaign group launched – MPs, celebrities and business leaders have launched a campaign calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the EU. A rally in Camden over the weekend attracted 1,200 people, including MPs from all leading parties. Both the Conservatives and Labour have ruled out a second referendum. (The BBC)