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and finally …

The UK left the European Union at 11:00 pm GMT on 31 January 2020.

The UK has now entered a Transition Period with the European Union during which the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union but will continue to be subject to European Union rules and remain a member of its single market and customs union.

UK MEPs have left the European Union Parliament, and the UK will no longer attend European Union Council meetings. During the transition period, freedom of movement will remain in place and citizens’ rights will continue unaffected until the end of the period. In addition, the UK will still be subject to European Union law and the rulings of the European Union Court of Justice throughout the period.

The transition period will last until 31 December 2020 and allows time for the UK and European Union to determine their on-going future relationship, particularly in respect of Trade and Co-operation.

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) was a ministerial department from 14 July 2016 to 31 January 2020. It was responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the European Union and has now been closed.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-exiting-the-european-union

In leaving the European Union, the Prime Minister made the following statement to the nation:

Tonight we are leaving the European Union.

For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come

And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss

And then of course there is a third group – perhaps the biggest – who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end

I understand all those feelings, and our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together now and take us forward

And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning

This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama

And yes it is partly about using these new powers – this recaptured sovereignty – to deliver the changes people voted for

Whether that is by controlling immigration or creating freeports or liberating our fishing industry or doing free trade deals

Or simply making our laws and rules for the benefit of the people of this country

And of course I think that is the right and healthy and democratic thing to do

Because for all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country

And that is a judgment that you, the people, have now confirmed at the polls

Not once but twice

And yet this moment is far bigger than that

It is not just about some legal extrication

It is potentially a moment of real national renewal and change

This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in

This is the moment when we really begin to unite and level up

Defeating crime, transforming our NHS, and with better education, with superb technology

And with the biggest revival of our infrastructure since the Victorians

We will spread hope and opportunity to every part of the UK

And if we can get this right I believe that with every month that goes by we will grow in confidence not just at home but abroad

And in our diplomacy, in our fight against climate change,

In our campaigns for human rights or female education or free trade we will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades

The power of independent thought and action

Not because we want to detract from anything done by our EU friends – of course not

We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation

Between the EU and an energetic Britain.

A Britain that is simultaneously a great European power

And truly global in our range and ambitions

And when I look at this country’s incredible assets

Our scientists, our engineers, our world-leading universities, our armed forces

When I look at the potential of this country waiting to be unleashed

I know that we can turn this opportunity into a stunning success

And whatever the bumps in the road ahead

I know that we will succeed

We have obeyed the people

We have taken back the tools of self-government

Now is the time to use those tools to unleash the full potential of this brilliant country and to make better the lives of everyone in every corner of our United Kingdom.

PM’s speech on new Brexit deal: 21 May 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a speech about the new Brexit deal on 21 May 2019.

Transcript:

I became Prime Minister almost three years ago – immediately after the British people voted to leave the European Union. My aim was – and is – to deliver Brexit and help our country move beyond the division of the referendum and into a better future. A country that works for everyone. Where everyone has the chance to get on in life and to go as far as their own talent and hard work can take them. That is a goal that I believe can still unite our country.

I knew that delivering Brexit was not going to be simple or straightforward. The result in 2016 was decisive, but it was close. The challenge of taking Brexit from the simplicity of the choice on the ballot paper to the complexity of resetting the country’s relationship with 27 of its nearest neighbours was always going to be huge.

While it has proved even harder than I anticipated, I continue to believe that the best way to make a success of Brexit is to negotiate a good exit deal with the EU as the basis of a new deep and special partnership for the future. That was my pitch to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. That is what I set out in my Lancaster House speech and that was what my Party’s election manifesto said in 2017. That is in essence what the Labour Party’s election manifesto stated too. And over 80% of the electorate backed parties which stood to deliver Brexit by leaving with a deal.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act – Passed

This Bill started its passage through Parliament on 2 April 2019 and looks to remove a bargaining chip from the UK in it’s discussions with the EU to prevent No Deal. The Bill completed its passage through Parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords) on 08 April 2019.

In trying to understand the consequences of this legislation it is useful to explore a Research Briefing prepared for the House of Commons:

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8541#fullreport

By the automatic operation of EU law, the UK leaves the EU on 12 April 2019 regardless of whether a deal has been ratified. The purpose of the Bill is to reduce the risk of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, or at least to delay that outcome beyond 12 April 2019 if that is what MPs want and the European Council is prepared to agree to it.

An important point here is that any extension needs to be agreed by the EU Council! They can reject a selected extension and/or propose their own date.

The day after the day on which this Bill gets Royal Assent, the Prime Minister would have to table a motion. This motion must seek Commons approval for a proposal that the UK asks the European Council for an extension to Article 50. The motion must set out the Prime Minister’s preferred extension date.

Following Royal Assent of the Bill on 08 April 2019 (when it became Law) the following Motion has been tabled for debate on 9 April 2019

The Prime Minister

That this House agrees for the purposes of section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 to the Prime Minister seeking an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union to a period ending on 30 June 2019.

As it happens the PM has already written to Donald Tusk (on 5 April 2019) requesting an extension to 30 June 2019 with an option to terminate early. Has the fast tracking of this Bill through Parliament been a complete waste of time ?

If the EU offers a different extension to the one proposed, the PM the must seek approval from the House of Commons before the revised date can be agreed with the EU.

The Act also provides a further role for the Commons in the event that the European Council does not agree to the Prime Minister’s request but proposes an alternative date. In those circumstances, the Prime Minister would have to seek further Commons approval before agreeing to that revised date and thereby giving effect to it in EU law.

The full report is available in the attached document issued by the House of Commons library

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill 2017-19

Does the EU want to punish the UK for Brexit?

Recent headlines may imply that the EU may want to make an example of the UK for having the temerity to leave their EU club.

Michel Barnier was at a recent conference “Intelligence on the World, Europe, and Italy” held on 1st – 3rd September 2017 in Italy.

The forum is an annual event of international scope and prestige. Heads of state and government, top representatives of European institutions, ministers, Nobel prize winners, businessmen, managers and experts from around the world have been meeting every year since 1975 to discuss current issues of major impact for the world economy and society as a whole.

The forum is hosted by Ambrosetti

https://www.ambrosetti.eu/en/summits-workshops-forums/forum-villa-deste/

During his attendance at this conference Barnier has been quoted as making various statements such as:

While he did not want to punish the UK for leaving he did confirm Brexit would serve as an “an educational process” for the British.

I have a state of mind – not aggressive, but I’m not naïve

There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market and it hasn’t been explained to the British people.

We intend to teach people what leaving the single market means.

On the issue of finance he said

the UK must accept some key principles, such as honouring the commitment it made in 2014 to pay 14% of the EU budget until 2020

While these comments may have been taken out of context, it may be a true example of the real mentality behind the negotiation stance being taken by the EU.

It may also explain why the EU appears to be presenting a series of conditions for the UK to accept, a fait accompli, rather than a series of items that can be used as a basis for discussion and why the negotiations themselves do not appear to be making much progress.

The political ideology as being promoted by Barnier, Juncker and Verhofstadt may backfire eventually if there is a danger of the UK and EU having to adhere to WTO rules for their future trading relationship. Where countries which have large trade exports to the UK such as, Germany Ireland and the Netherlands may suffer more than other countries in the EU.

This could well see the EU and UK adopt a set of WTO trade rules which will govern their future trading relationship.

(www.poundsterlinglive.com)

In other news from the conference, a paper was presented titled “BREXIT one year later: Main implications and proposals to manage the transition underway” which explores and analyses the impact of Brexit on the EU and UK.

It contains an interesting table of Trade figures between the UK and other countries in the EU

and also comments that

According to the estimates of the European Commission, the hole left by the UK’s exit in Community finances will be over 10 billion euros per year. Source: Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances, 28 June 2017.

The paper concludes:

The real impact of Brexit is linked to the result of the negotiations between the two sides.

The scenario that seems to emerge shows that neither the EU nor the UK will likely see an improvement in their conditions as a result of London’s exit from the EU. Our greatest hope is therefore that the parties in question can build up the political will and the regulatory framework necessary to lead to an interruption and reversal of the current process, reconsidering Britain’s remaining within the EU.

References

https://www.poundsterlinglive.com/gbp-live-today/7462-gbp-to-eur-and-usd-conversions-brexit-dynamics-shift

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41140564

https://www.ambrosetti.eu/wp-content/uploads/Brexit-one-year-later-Position-Paper-2017.pdf (pdf)

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/reflection-paper-eu-finances_en.pdf (pdf)

Flexit – The Market solution to leaving the EU

by Politicker

A view of the future from a Leaver.

Paper: Flexcit – The Market solution to leaving the EU

The purpose of this (online) book is to set out the mechanisms the UK might employ in leaving the European Union. It is a “roadmap” to demonstrate that an orderly exit is both plausible and practical and largely risk-free.

http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/flexcit.pdf (pdf)

A pamphlet has also been produced which summarises the online book

http://eureferendum.com/themarketsolution.pdf (pdf)

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