November was a pivotal month for Brexit negotiations with the publication of the full text of the draft UK-EU withdrawal agreement, and the political declaration on the framework for the future UK-EU relationship (the deal). The House of Commons will debate and vote on a motion to approve the deal over five days, with the debate starting on 4 December 2018, and the vote taking place on 11 December 2018.
Draft UK-EU withdrawal agreement and political declaration on the framework for the future relationship
The government published the full text of the draft UK-EU withdrawal agreement on 14 November 2018. After a lengthy debate in Cabinet, the Prime Minister confirmed the Cabinet’s collective decision that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration, which was published on the same day.
A joint UK-EU statement published alongside the draft text emphasised that the UK and the EU do not want to see the backstop enter into force, which the statement described as a sub-optimal trading arrangement for both sides. The agreed backstop includes a single UK-EU customs territory, and UK-EU level playing field measures. It also requires continued application of the Union’s Customs Code to Northern Ireland, and continued alignment of Northern Ireland to EU single market rules required to avoid a hard border.
On 22 November 2018, the government published the full draft of the political declaration on the framework for the future UK-EU relationship. The text was endorsed by the EU27 leaders at a European Council meeting on 25 November 2018. The draft political declaration sets out the scope and terms of the future relationship. Among other things, it describes a future relationship based on an overarching institutional framework, and an economic partnership encompassing a free trade area and wider sectoral co-operation, underpinned by level-playing-field provisions for open and fair competition. Practical Law has published a practice note on the political declaration.
The government laid copies of the draft withdrawal agreement and the political declaration (the deal) before Parliament on 26 November 2018. The House of Commons will debate and vote on a motion to approve the deal over five days, with the debate starting on 4 December 2018, and the vote taking place on 11 December 2018, after consideration of any amendments. Practical Law has published a flowchart outlining the process for Parliament’s consideration of the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the future relationship framework.
Preparing for Brexit
On 13 November 2018, the European Commission adopted a Communication on a Contingency Action Plan for preparing for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Communication outlines a limited number of contingency actions in priority areas that could be implemented in the case of a no-deal Brexit. These contingency measures would be adopted unilaterally by the EU and would be temporary and in principle not go beyond the end of 2019.
Practical Law has published a note providing practical guidance for in-house legal teams to prepare their company for Brexit and a case study in which Alison Kay discusses the areas of most concern to National Grid as regards Brexit, and the preparations it is making for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Brexit statutory instruments
The Department for Exiting the European Union has estimated the future flow of the remaining Brexit-related statutory instruments before exit day. It projected that 150 to 200 were expected to be laid in November 2018. You can keep an eye on them via our Brexit statutory instruments tracker.
Consultation on changes to the Takeover Code
On 6 November 2018, the Code Committee of the Takeover Panel published a consultation on the proposed changes to the Code relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Proposed amendments include deletion of the shared jurisdiction rules in section 3(a)(iii) of the Code Introduction. Responses to the consultation are requested by 17 December 2018.
Consultation on changes to the FCA Handbook and EU derived binding technical standards
The FCA has published for consultation its second set of proposed changes to the FCA Handbook and EU derived binding technical standards if the UK leaves the EU without an implementation period. The proposals include, among other things, further amendments to the Handbook Glossary, and amendments to the Disclosure Guidance and Transparency Rules, Listing Rules and Prospectus Rules. The consultation closes on 21 December 2018.