Brexit Bulletin, 28 January 2019

Jan 28, 2019

With 60 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, there is still no agreement on the withdrawal agreement with the backstop still proving the sticking point. There are reports that the EU have said if there is no backstop, the UK must remain in a permanent customs union with the EU.  The Irish government has published an outline of the legislation which will be required here as we manage our future arrangements with the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Permanent customs union

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has reportedly said that if the UK wants to do away with the backstop, it must sign up to a permanent customs union with the EU. Leaked information documenting a conversation between Mr Juncker and Theresa May suggest that unless the UK changes its position dramatically, the current proposals contained within the withdrawal agreement were non-negotiable. The backstop has proved the biggest obstacle in getting the withdrawal bill through the UK Parliament.

More votes

Labour MP Yvette Cooper and some other backbenchers put forward a proposal to delay Brexit in the event of the tweaked Brexit deal not being passed by the House of Commons by 26 February.  The proposal would allow MPs to vote on the case for extending the Article 50 process. Under EU law, the Article 50 process can only be extended if the other 27 Member States agree.

Other alternatives to move forward with Brexit have been proposed by MPs through a parliamentary tool known as an “amendment”.  Over the weekend, support was being drawn up for an amendment which requires the backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border. There’s hope that if this amendments is passed in parliament, it offers a good chance of progress with the EU.

Tomorrow (29 January), the UK parliament will discuss and vote on these amendments. Read more about the amendments proposed.

Irish government publishes Brexit legislation

The Irish government published the outline scheme of its Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill 2019 last week as part of the continued contingency plans for a no deal Brexit.  The Bill is made up of 17 parts and “focuses on the broad themes of protecting the citizen, and supporting the economy, enterprise and jobs.”  The Bill includes how healthcare and travel arrangements would be maintained between the UK and Ireland, how the single electricity market would continue to operate, how tax reliefs would work as well as information on financial services and third country provisions.  

Revenue Chairman in front of Oireachtas committee

Revenue Chairman, Niall Cody appeared before the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform yesterday to talk about Revenue’s Brexit preparedness.  Commissioner Cody’s message to business has been, he says, “clear and consistent.  You need to undertake a Brexit impact assessment for your business; you need to identify the challenge or challenges of adapting your business processes; and you need to be ready to comply with the customs requirements that will arise from trading with the UK as a third country.”  You can read the Commissioner’s opening statement using this link.

Revenue guidance on Brexit

Revenue has added some more content to its Brexit web centre to include specific information on the customs implications for Irish traders trading with the UK.