Spring Brexit update
On 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU). However, much needs to be done before the actual exit (the “Brexit”) takes effect. In the last six months, the government has been dealing with the issue of how to start the process formally.
The trigger for the government to start its formal Brexit negotiations with the EU is service of a notice to leave under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Last year, Theresa May announced the government’s intention to serve Article 50 notice before 31 March 2017. However, objections were raised from various quarters about whether the government has the constitutional power to take this action without first seeking approval from Parliament.
This and other issues were raised in court in the case of Miller -v- the Secretary of State for exiting the European Union*. The government argued that it needed no parliamentary approval to serve Article 50 – but both the High Court and the Supreme Court rejected this argument.
The government subsequently started the process of obtaining parliamentary approval by laying before parliament the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (now being referred to as the “Brexit Bill”). The bill was brief and to the point and, helped by government promises that parliament would be able to vote on the Brexit deal (after it is concluded with the EU), it was approved, without amendment, by the House of Commons by a majority of 494 votes to 122 on 8 February 2017.
The Brexit Bill is currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords. The Lords will scrutinise and discuss the bill at length. The Lords are not democratically elected and while they might suggest revisions to House of Commons approved Brexit Bill, they are unlikely to reject it given the clear outcome of the UK referendum. There may be some toing and froing of the bill between the two houses (known as “ping pong”) until the exact wording is agreed – a process that might cause some discomfort to the government as the promised trigger date of 31 March 2017 approaches.
*R (Miller) -v- Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union:
- High Court decision, 3 November 2016,  EWHC 2768 (Admin)
- Supreme Court decision: 24 January 2017
Trading considerations arising out of Brexit
With the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations at least two years away, uncertainty continues to affect trading conditions for UK businesses and the exchange rate. Uncertainty also remains about key issues such as which EU laws will remain in place, how immigration will be dealt with and the status of EU workers in the UK and UK nationals residing in the EU.
You can read more about how businesses can prepare for Brexit here:
Susan Mayall, one of our employment law experts, led a round-table discussion on employment law and HR issues after Brexit for the Oldham Chronicle’s business magazine The Edge, in January. You can read more about how to access the Edge and all its articles on the Oldham Evening Chronicle website.Subscribe to our newsletter
Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
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