Brexit Bulletin, 10 December 2018

Dec 10, 2018

It’s been reported this morning that the UK Prime Minister has delayed the vote on the withdrawal agreement in the UK parliament that was scheduled to take place tomorrow night.  The cancellation comes amid predictions that a majority of MPs would vote against the bill.   In other developments, HMRC have sent letters to many traders asking them to take three actions in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit.

The key vote

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has reportedly delayed tomorrow night’s vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons.  Ms May had spent last week trying to persuade MPs to back the Brexit withdrawal agreement and there have been several reports in the media that she faced an almost impossible task in getting the vote passed.  There had been suggestions that the Prime Minister should go back to the EU seeking some amendments to the bill. The EU was very clear when the bill was drawn up that this was the final agreement and it could offer no alternative.  The possibility of a second referendum could be on the table too. Theresa May will address parliament at 3:30pm today. 

EU leaders will meet later this week (13 and 14 December) and the agenda in relation to Brexit reportedly remains in draft. With just over 100 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, will Theresa May seek the EU’s help to get the bill over the line?

You can also listen to Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy & Taxation speaking about what a no deal Brexit could mean for Ireland on LBC radio in the UK with James O’Brien. 

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 last week.   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 its understood that this case, which was first brought by a group of politicians from Scotland, was fast-tracked.

Preparing for a no-deal Brexit – letters to traders

If you are an EU-only trader based in the UK or Northern Ireland, you will receive a letter imminently from HMRC asking you to take three actions to ensure that you are prepared for a possible no-deal Brexit.  Separate letters will issue to UK and Northern Ireland traders. It’s important to note that if you only import or export goods with Ireland across the Northern Ireland-Ireland land border, you do not need to take any of the actions set out in the letter.

The actions listed in the letters tell you to:

  1. Register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number using this link.Traders will need an EORI number to continue importing and exporting goods with the EU after 29 March 2019 if there is no deal agreed. Traders will also need an EORI number to apply for simplified customs procedures. We looked at EORI status as part of our Back to Brexit Basics series.
  2. Decide if you will make customs declarations yourself or hire an agent to do so on your behalf.If you make declarations yourself, you will need to ensure that you have the correct software.
  3. Make contact with the organisation that moves your goods (e.g. a haulage firm) to find out if they need any further information from you to make safety and security declarations for your goods. You may need to make these declarations yourself.

Read the text of the letter to UK and Northern Ireland traders.

More information on these changes can be found at and you can register to get updates on the UK’s exit from the EU using this link.

New customs funding scheme launched

The UK government have set aside £8 million to give grants to customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations.  The grants support training and IT and applications opened on Tuesday (4 December).

Businesses are encouraged to apply early for the grants. Applications will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated. More information on how to apply can be found using this link.

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