Brexit Bulletin, 17 December 2018

Dec 17, 2018

UK Prime Minister Theresa May might have won the confidence vote but after meeting EU leaders last week, she still faces a mammoth struggle to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.  In other news, the Irish government is ramping up contingency plans for a hard Brexit and the Irish Revenue is writing to traders who trade with the UK advising them of some customs obligations post Brexit. Readers are also reminded of the Institute’s Brexit resources to help plan in the event of a hard Brexit.

An embattled leader

Theresa May survived an attempt by her Tory colleagues to remove her as leader of the Conservative party last week; 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 then the embattled UK Prime Minister went to the EU Summit in Brussels in an attempt to seek concessions from the EU on her Brexit deal. The 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; particularly how long it will last.  Many MPs see the backstop as unpalatable as it leaves the UK in a de facto customs union with the EU indefinitely 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.  And at the moment, the EU don’t appear to be offering any concessions.  EU leaders were clear after the summit- 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.  Now Theresa May goes back to her parliament today for further discussions. With just over 100 days to go until 29 March 2019, the prospect of a no deal Brexit remains.

Revenue write to Irish traders

As the Irish government says it is preparing for a hard Brexit, 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. 

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