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Ed's Brexit round-up - a year of unknowns

11th Jan 2019 / By Ed Barker

Welcome to 2019 – a year of unknowns.

EdBarkerNPAParliament resumed its business on Monday, and it can be said that MPs and backbenchers have really started to wrestle authority away from the Government. A number of Government defeats this week – most notably a defeat on Wednesday – makes for sobering reading headed in to next week.

The reason for this is because – all being well – MPs will be given their final ‘vote’ on the Withdrawal Agreement as it is penned on Tuesday. It is from this point we will have some kind of clarity of direction as to where we are heading next; a no vote certainly increases the chances of a no deal to take place.

Moreover, it becomes the default position as we head to the end of March unless the Government revokes Article 50 or requests and extension to the Article 50 protocol. (Article 50 was triggered by the Government in March 2017 and it states that a Member State will leave 2 years from that date).

Neither options are certain or likely – not least because it requires a huge leap of faith from the EU to offer clemency – merely strengthening their hand. Meanwhile, many MPs want the EU to see that the UK is serious about leaving without a  deal – others don’t see the big deal about leaving the EU without a deal. All of these are strategies at the riskier end of the scale.

Softer Brexit? 

One interesting development that has made next week’s vote more pointed towards a ‘softer’ Brexit (whatever happens) came about because of a minor Government rebellion on Wednesday. Led by Dominic Grieve MP, and supported by a number of Conservative MPs plus almost all opposition MPs, he tabled an amendment under the EU (Withdrawal) Act.

The Government previously had 21 calendar days to make a statement on its next move if May’s proposals were voted down, however as a result of this new amendment (passed 308 to 297), a vote in the Commons now has to take place within seven sitting days. The Grieve amendment is designed to prevent May from running down the clock should her deal be rejected, and gives MPs time to consider alternative plans – curtailing a perceived strategy of the PM to run the clock down.

The defeat comes a day after a cross-party group of MPs led by Labour’s Yvette Cooper passed an amendment to the Finance Bill limiting the Government’s tax administration powers in the event of a no-deal Brexit – making parliament have the final say on Government expenditure in the event of a no deal.

All eyes on Westminster next Tuesday then for a likely defeat – as ever it is likely to be the ensuing ripple effects that are most insightful as opposed to the vote itself. We will be in Westminster next Tuesday and Wednesday, making sure we are getting the pig voice heard as best as we can, with meetings with Defra the day after the vote lined up to be able to get the most up to date information as it emerges.

No deal brieifing

In case you haven’t seen it, our no deal briefing can be found here. We know a number of NPA members have written to their MPs to explain what a no-deal could mean for their business. If you need any help on materials or contact details please ask us at team NPA and we will be more than happy to help.

A letter from a constituent business is always rarely ignored – one member told us this week that he had a reply the very next day!

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