Brexit Bulletin, 14 December 2018

Dec 13, 2018

UK Prime Minister Theresa May might have won the confidence vote but she now faces a mammoth struggle to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.  In other news, the Irish Revenue is writing to traders who trade with the UK advising them of some customs obligations post Brexit and readers are reminded of the Institute’s Brexit resources available on our website.

An embattled leader

Theresa May survived an attempt by her Tory colleagues to remove her as leader of the Conservative party on Wednesday; winning the vote of confidence among her MPs by 200 to 117.  The vote hasn’t changed anything on the Brexit withdrawal bill – hostility among her own party and the opposition remains.  

And now the embattled UK Prime Minister is in Brussels at the EU Summit in an attempt to seek concessions from the EU on her Brexit deal - but the EU have been forthright in saying no. The Northern Ireland backstop - the insurance policy to ensure that there is no hard border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK and EU cannot agree a free trade deal after the transition period ends – remains the sticking point.  Many MPs see the backstop as unpalatable as it leaves the UK in a customs union with the EU and means the UK is not free to seek out free trade deals with other countries. 

So something is needed in order to make the deal more palatable to Prime Minister May’s own Parliament.  Will the EU give concessions?  So far the EU leaders have been clear that the deal that is on the table is the only deal; and while it cannot be changed, the EU is willing to deliver some assurances on the backstop.  With just over 100 days to go until 29 March 2019, the prospect of a no deal Brexit remains. 

Revenue write to Irish traders 

The Irish Revenue has begun the process of writing to traders in the Republic of Ireland who trade with the UK advising them of the potential customs obligations that they may face post Brexit.   

Traders are also encouraged to attend customs information seminars run by Revenue.  Events have taken place in Dublin and Cork and further events are planned for Galway, Wexford, Sligo, Dundalk, Monaghan and Westmeath in January.  We will communicate these venues and dates to members when they are confirmed.  

The Brexit dedicated page on the Revenue website will be updated with further information as it becomes available.

Institute’s Brexit resources

Members are reminded that the Institute has published a series of Back to Brexit Basics which will help you understand Brexit and its possible implications for you and your business.  The free customs guide Taking the Lead: Chartered Accountants and Brexit prepared by the Institute and ICAEW will also help business in the UK and Ireland get a grasp of customs obligations post Brexit. 

ECJ says UK can revoke Article 50 unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 which provides for its withdrawal from the EU.   This opinion is the same as the one reached by the ECJ’s Advocate General recently.   Response to the decision in the UK was mixed with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove saying that the UK will leave the EU as planned in March.  The ruling is reportedly one of the fastest ever made by the ECJ where decisions can take some months. However it’s understood that this case, which was first brought by a group of politicians from Scotland, was fast-tracked.

Read all of our Brexit updates and Back to Brexit Basics on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.