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Press statement about UK attendance at EU meetings

A Press Statement released by the Department for Exiting the European Union on 20 August 2019 stated that UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-officials-will-stop-attending-most-eu-meetings-from-1-september

UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September so that they can focus on our future relationship with the EU and other partners around the world.

The Government has decided this week that from 1 September, UK officials and Ministers will now only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security.

This decision reflects the fact that the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 October is now very close and many of the discussions in EU meetings will be about the future of the Union after the UK has left.

As the PM has promised in the House of Commons in July, as a departing Member State it makes sense to “unshackle” officials from these EU meetings to enable them to better focus their talents on our immediate national priorities. This includes, as the top priority, work on preparations for Brexit on 31 October and on our future relationship with the EU, but also on pioneering new trade deals and promoting a truly Global Britain.

This decision is not intended in any way to frustrate the functioning of the EU. The UK’s vote will be delegated in a way that does not obstruct the ongoing business of the remaining 27 EU members.

Where matters of ongoing national interest are being discussed, the UK will continue to be present until 31 October.

Further details:

  • As a Member State the UK is allowed to send a representative to a variety of EU meetings. These representatives can be Government Ministers or officials.
  • The UK has decided that we do not need representation at all of these meetings, especially where the subject is the future of the EU after we have left.
  • The UK will continue to attend if and when it is in our interests, with particular regard to meetings on UK exit, sovereignty, international relations, security, or finance and the Prime Minister will attend European Council.
  • Decisions will be made on a case by case basis depending on the agendas of the meetings. This provides the right amount of flexibility to ensure UK interests remain protected.

Secretary of State Steve Barclay said:

An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings with attendance just the tip of the iceberg. Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.

From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours. This will free up time for Ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.

PM letter to Donald Tusk: 19 August 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, 19 August 2019, about the UK’s exit from the EU.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pm-letter-to-donald-tusk-19-august-2019

Dear Donald,

UNITED KINGDOM’S EXIT FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION

The date of the United Kingdm’s (UK) exit from the European Union (EU), October 31, is fast approaching. I very much hope that we will be leaving with a deal. You have my personal commitment that this Government will work with energy and determination to achieve an agreement. That is our highest priority.

With that in mind, I wanted to set out our position on some key aspects of our approach, and in particular on the so-called “backstop” in the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the Withdrawal Agreement. Before I do so, let me make three wider points.

First, Ireland is the UK’s closest neighbour, with whom we will continue to share uniquely deep ties, a land border, the Common Travel Area, and much else besides. We remain, as we have always been, committed to working with Ireland on the peace process, and to furthering Northern Ireland’s security and prosperity. We recognise the unique challenges the outcome of the referendum poses for Ireland, and want to find solutions to the border which work for all.

Second, and flowing from the first, I want to re-emphasise the commitment of this Government to peace in Northern Ireland. The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, as well as being an agreement between the UK and Ireland, is a historic agreement between two traditions in Northern Ireland, and we are unconditionally committed to the spirit and letter of our obligations under it in all circumstances — whether there is a deal with the EU or not.

Third, and for the avoidance of any doubt, the UK remains committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area, to upholding the rights of the people of Northern Ireland, to ongoing North-South cooperation, and to retaining the benefits of the Single Electricity Market.

Brexit Secretary signs order to scrap 1972 Brussels Act

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The Government has signed into law legislation to repeal the Act of Parliament which set in stone Britain’s EU (EEC) membership in 1972.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/brexit-secretary-signs-order-to-scrap-1972-brussels-act-ending-all-eu-law-in-the-uk

The 1972 Act is the vehicle that sees regulations flow into UK law directly from the EU’s lawmaking bodies in Brussels.

The announcement of the Act’s repeal marks a historic step in returning lawmaking powers from Brussels to the UK. We are taking back control of our laws, as the public voted for in 2016.

The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 will take effect when Britain formally leaves the EU on October 31.

Speaking after signing the legislation that will crystallise in law the upcoming repeal of the ECA, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU Steve Barclay said:

This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back – we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances – delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016.

The votes of 17.4 million people deciding to leave the EU is the greatest democratic mandate ever given to any UK Government. Politicians cannot choose which public votes they wish to respect. Parliament has already voted to leave on 31 October. The signing of this legislation ensures that the EU Withdrawal Act will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on exit day.

The ECA saw countless EU regulations flowing directly into UK law for decades, and any government serious about leaving on October 31 should show their commitment to repealing it.

That is what we are doing by setting in motion that repeal. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels.

Can Boris Johnson can legally suspend Parliament ?

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In more legal shenanigans, MPs determined to thwart Brexit have asked a Scottish Court to decide whether Boris Johnson can suspend Parliament to force through Brexit.

The Court of Session, in Scotland, has agreed to a fast-tracked hearing on whether Boris Johnson can legally suspend (prorogue) Parliament.

At a preliminary hearing Lord Doherty agreed to expedite the timetable for the legal challenge to take place, setting the date for the substantive hearing as Friday 6 September 2019.

A petition which has signatures from 70 MPs from the House of Commons and 5 members of the House of Lords was presented to the court requesting a

Judicial review on the vires of Ministers of the Crown to advise the Queen to prorogue the Westminster Parliament

A copy of the original petition to the court is available:

Petition for Judicial Review (pdf)

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case and whether/how it will affect further proceedings in the House of Commons.

Notes:

Prorogation of Parliament

Prorogation is the means (otherwise than by dissolution) by which a Parliamentary session is brought to an end.

It is a prerogative power exercised by the Crown on the advice of the Privy Council. In practice this process has been a formality in the UK for more than a century: the Government of the day advises the Crown to prorogue and that request is acquiesced to.

More information can be found in a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper at

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8589

and

CBP-8589 (pdf)

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