A Brexit Deal in Sight?
While the Government has released a fresh batch of technical notices in preparation for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit (more info below)- it appears that both the EU and the UK are willing to offer more concessions in order to reach a deal. The EU is planning on redrafting the language on the contentious Irish backstop to make it more palatable for the UK.
At the same time, Theresa May is also expected to make compromises on the Irish border, but with the caveat that any concessions will come after the Conservative Party conference in early October. The problem for May is that party conference is increasingly shaping up to be the deadline for when the Brexit supporters in her party may oust her if she does not change her negotiating position. Whether they do indeed have the numbers for a ‘vote of no confidence’ in May is not clear- such a vote requires 48 members of the Conservative party need to submit a letter of no confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee (committee made up of Tory backbench MPs)
Preparing for a no deal Brexit: technical notices released
Yesterday, the Government published another batch of no deal Brexit planning papers. There are particularly four papers that are of interest to the Alliance and our members.
There are two notes on EU funding post-Brexit: the European Regional Development Fund (which provides funding to support regional growth and reduce differences in economic performance between regions) and the European Social Fund (which supports employment and promotes social and economic cohesion). Both notes state that in a ‘no deal’ scenario UK organisations would be unable to access EU funding after exit day. However, both of the notes goes on to say that the UK government will provide funding until the end of 2020 and concludes that “organisations should continue applying for and delivering funding under current arrangements with confidence that the funding guarantee applies if there is no negotiated agreement between the UK and the EU”. There is no mention of whether the Government plans to introduce the Shared Prosperity Fund (the system which will replace EU funding) immediately after 2020.
The technical note on how the UK Government plans to uphold environmental standards in the event of no deal is astounding in its lack of detail. It states that with the passing of the EU Withdrawal Act, all existing EU environmental law continues to operate in the UK. But as member of the Alliance, Friends of the Earth, and other green campaigners have pointed out time and time again- these protections might be lost, weakened or not faithfully transposed, and there’s not enough time to establish sufficient enforcement mechanisms. The technical note explains that the Government will pass a new environmental Act, which will establish a new, independent watchdog to enforce environmental protections. However, the note almost admits that Government knows there isn’t enough time to establish such a body before March 2019. The Government does not provide any other detail apart from stating that they are “considering what interim measures may be necessary in a no deal scenario after 29 March 2019 and before the Environment Act is passed and comes into effect”.
Common Travel Area
The technical note on the Common Travel Area (an open border area comprising of the UK, Ireland & Isle of Man) states that in a ‘no deal’ scenario British and Irish citizens could continue to travel freely between Britain and Ireland without seeking immigration permission. They are “not required to take any action” to protect their status or rights associated with common travel area. Highly recommend reading is the Committee on the Administration of Justice briefing on Common Travel Area and the risks of increased racial profiling here.
Agriculture bill published
This week, the Government finally published the Agriculture bill which has the purpose of establishing a new system for payments to farmers and landowners after leaving the EU Common Agricultural policy. The bill sets out to replace the current system of subsidies paid for the amount of land being farmed with an agriculture subsidy system. This would see farmers who provide the greatest environmental benefit receiving the largest amount of public money. This move has been welcomed by the environmental sector. However, both green campaigners and the farming community have expressed disappointment that the Government has failed to give any assurances that public money will be available for environmental schemes, and clarify whether there will be any taxpayer-funded support for food production. Read more about it here.
There’s only three days left to apply to be the Co-ordinator of the Brexit Civil Society Alliance- this is a brilliant opportunity to lead the civil society response to Brexit and grow an increasingly successful alliance from across the UK. Full job description & application form available here. It would be most appreciated if Alliance members can circulate information about the post to your networks.
Join us at party conferences this autumn!
The Alliance is hosting fringe events at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences in September and October.
Labour Party Conference- Brexit: A Nation Divided
24th September, 12.30-14.00, Tate Liverpool
From the many and vexed questions around the border in Northern Ireland and the potential strains placed on the Good Friday Agreement, to the refusal of the Scottish Parliament to grant consent to EU Withdrawal Act, it is evident that there are significant constitutional rifts in the UK. With less than 7 months before we leave the European Union, there are still questions left unanswered about what implications Brexit will have on the devolved nature of the UK constitution.
Our fringe event will bring together leading experts from across the UK to explore the implications leaving the EU will have on our hard-won devolution settlements. Register here.
Conservative Party Conference- Brexit Certainty & Civil Society: What Next?
1st October, 17.45-19.00, Austin Court (IET Birmingham)
Business has made the case for certainty and clarity as we leave the EU. Equally, civil society across the UK also needs that certainty to be able to plan effectively going forward.
This event will bring together experts and relevant stakeholders who have been working on Brexit legislation across the nations and regions of the UK. They will assess what challenges, threats and opportunities lie ahead for UK civil society in a post-Brexit world.Register here.