Brexit Bulletin, 7 December 2018

Dec 06, 2018

Debate continued this week in the House of Commons on the withdrawal agreement amid rumours that cabinet ministers have asked the Prime Minister to cancel next Tuesday’s Brexit vote and go back to the EU and ask for amendments to the deal.  In other developments, the HMRC have sent letters to certain traders asking them to take three actions in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit. 

The key vote

UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues attempts to persuade MPs to back the Brexit withdrawal agreement this week ahead of next Tuesday crucial vote in the House of Commons.  There are several reports in the media this week that she faces an almost impossible task and may need to 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.  EU leaders will meet on 13 and 14 December and the agenda in relation to Brexit reportedly remains in draft. With 112 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, will Theresa May seek the EU’s help to get the bill over the line?

ECJ Advocate General says UK can revoke Article 50 unilaterally

According to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) Advocate General’s legal opinion, the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 which provides for its withdrawal from the EU.  It’s important to note that this decision is not binding on the ECJ and the ECJ will make its judgement this coming Monday (10 December).  The case was brought by a group of politicians from Scotland.

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.