Brexit briefing: December 2017
We end 2017 having completed phase one of the Brexit negotiations and passing the first big hurdle of the EU Withdrawal Bill – its House of Commons committee reading.
Even though progress of talks has been glacial at times, in mid-December the UK and EU agreed that there has been “sufficient progress” to move onto the second phase of talks, while the Cabinet has reached a broad consensus to fight for a bespoke Brexit deal.
This briefing contains details of:
- The latest Government and political developments relating to Brexit
- An overview of the Brexit negotiations
- An update on parliamentary activities relating to Brexit, including the committee stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill
- NHS Providers’ work on Brexit with the Cavendish Coalition and the Brexit Health Alliance
- Theresa May’s Florence speech set out the Government’s latest position on Brexit, whereas Labour’s stance on Brexit remains fluid and the party’s official position on whether there should be a ‘second referendum’ on any final deal is unclear.
- Agreements in principle on: protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU; the framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland; and the broad financial settlement; meant that negotiations could move on to the second phase in mid-December.
- However discussions around the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland nearly derailed the talks in early December.
- The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has now completed the committee stage in the House of Commons. The only vote lost by the Government was on Amendment 7, which requires the final Brexit deal to be approved in a new law passed by Parliament. The Bill will move to Report Stage in the new year, giving MPs an opportunity to consider any further amendments before moving on to Third Reading.
- The Government has announced its intention to enshrine in law the date the UK would leave the EU as 11pm GMT, on March 29 2019. However ministers will be able to change the date and time of exit day, meaning that negotiations could be extended beyond 29 March 2019.
- There are around 25 live Brexit-related select committee inquiries in the House of Commons, including a Health Select Committee inquiry into Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin.
- The tight timetable imposed on reaching an agreement on future relations (i.e., a trade deal) is earmarked as the most likely cause of a no deal situation.