June Brexit Update
We have finally seen EU Withdrawal Bill receive Royal Assent in the last week. It was first introduced into the House of Commons in July 2017 and after passing between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, it has now become law.
In its final weeks, the EU Withdrawal Bill ping-ponged between the two houses as amendments were voted on and compromises were made. It returned from the HoL to the HoC with 15 amendments. There was much uncertainty about which way the votes would go and whether government would be defeated or not depending on the actions from the Conservative pro-remain ‘rebels’ with Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice resigning his position so as to vote against Theresa May and the government in the amendment around a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final deal. Labour had planned to support 14 out of the 15 Lords amendments, however they did not support the amendment around the EEA as they submitted their own EEA amendment instead. In the end, MPs voted against the last remaining Tory amendment to the bill on a meaningful vote to enable to bill to pass to law. Crunch votes are now expected next month on the Customs Union.
It has been suggested that Theresa May will be making proposals to keep the UK in the single market for goods (but not services). It is difficult to see how the EU would accept this proposal without the concession of free movement of people as they had previously warned against ‘cherry-picking’.
Earlier this month also saw the SNP walk out during Prime Minister’s Questions in protest of the lack of time given to debate the devolution issues in the bill. This was after MSPs voted not to give Holyrood’s consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill in May. Despite this, MPs opted to proceed with the bill, however the SNP stated after the walk out that their interests had been ignored and the voice and views of the Scottish Parliament had been ‘completely cast aside’.
This week has seen a number of big businesses in the UK come out in criticism of the Brexit process and the uncertainty that remains within government. These businesses included Airbus as well as the car industry who have said that ‘there is no Brexit dividend’ for the industry and highlighted the many risks and potential negative impacts associated with Brexit and the government’s strategy.
The past weekend saw a People’s Vote march to mark the two-year anniversary of the EU referendum. The People’s Vote campaign is demanding a referendum on the terms of Brexit. Politicians from a number of parties attended including Conservative MP Anna Soubry, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Labour MP David Lammy. The People’s Vote campaign has been gaining support from a number of organisations in the past weeks including the Royal College of Nurses and British Medical Association.
EU citizen settlement scheme
The UK has also unveiled its post-Brexit EU citizen settlement scheme (click here to read more). The Home Office has promised that there will be an online fast track registration process with decisions made in days.
At the end of this week, EU heads of government will meet in Brussels for a summit where they will look at the progress of the EU and UK negotiations. It is increasingly likely that the date to agree a deal will be pushed back beyond October 2018. In July we are also expecting the UK government to produce a White Paper on the UK’s post Brexit vision.
NICVA’s Brexit case studies report
Finally, last week NICVA launched a case studies report looking at the potential implication of Brexit on the VCSE sector. The report documents six case studies provided by organisations from our sector working on wide-ranging issues, giving their perspectives on the current and potential future impacts they envisage Brexit could bring to bear on their work and the people they serve. The report can be accessed here.