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Brexit readiness report – 08 October 2019

Preparations to ensure that the UK is ready for Brexit on 31 October will be set out in a paper published today by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove.

The Government has put forward serious and reasonable proposals to the EU and continues to work at pace to secure a deal, but this will require movement from the EU. If we leave without a deal, the Brexit readiness report includes details of the Government’s work to make sure that citizens and businesses are ready for Brexit on 31 October.

The report also sets out the preparation underway to ensure that goods continue to flow smoothly across the UK and EU border after Brexit, with measures in place and information given to traders, businesses and hauliers on what they need to do to prepare before 31 October.

These include:

o the automatic allocation of Economic Operator Registration Indicator (EORI) numbers to 88,000 VAT registered companies across the UK that frequently trade with the EU;

o postponed VAT accounting for both EU and non-EU imports, enabling VAT-registered businesses to wait until their next VAT return to declare and recover import VAT on goods- helping their cash flow and reducing costs at the point of import;

o a Temporary Tariff Regime (TTR) for all imports, including from the EU, supporting consumers, business supply chains and those sectors in the UK economy that would most benefit from support as we leave, for up to 12 months; and

HMRC sending 220,000 businesses guidance on the steps they need to take to import and export after we leave the EU on 31 October.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rt Hon Michael Gove MP said:

“It is the top priority of this Government, and principal focus of my job, to get ready for Brexit on 31 October with or without a deal. We would prefer to leave with a deal, and continue to work in an energetic and determined way to achieve one, but we must be prepared for all eventualities.

This report sets out what will change if we leave without a deal and explains what the Government is doing to get ready. Significant preparations have been underway for the last three years and these have been accelerated under the Prime Minister’s leadership. At every point, the Government will be candid about any further challenges ahead as well as clear-eyed about the opportunities. Together, government, businesses and citizens are working so that we will be ready for Brexit on 31 October– and can look forward to the future with certainty and confidence.”

In a further move to get the country ready and to help ensure the UK’s health sector is prepared, the Government is today establishing a dedicated ‘Support Unit’ for suppliers of medical goods in the health sector. This will help to ensure that companies have the necessary customs paperwork in place for border arrangements ahead of Brexit on 31 October, if we leave without a deal. These teams of specialists will be able to provide traders operating in the health and social care sector with up-to-date advice and practical guidance on the steps they need to take to prepare.

The Brexit readiness report released today outlines preparations that have been made to support businesses and citizens if we leave without a deal, including:

o significant increases in the number of customs agents at the borders;

o a new import/ export helpline to answer businesses’ questions;

o the largest ever government public information campaign to get public and business owners ready for Brexit;

o organised business readiness events with more than 800 attendees to support businesses to get ready for Brexit, with 29 additional events in the pipeline. Secured additional funding to deliver webinars for EU companies to tell them what they need to do; and

o secured additional freight capacity and worked on preparations with our suppliers and partners, to ensure the stockpile of critical medicines and goods.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/brexit-readiness-report-published

The full report (159 pages) is available:

No-Deal Readiness Report (pdf)

No-Deal Readiness Report (local copy pdf)

Playing with the Numbers (again)

I’ve noticed various claims about how many people voted to remain in or to leave the EU – which can be interpreted depending on your point of view.

Here’s a typical example, this one from the Scotsman newspaper

https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-can-a-scottish-court-order-boris-johnson-to-be-imprisoned-1-5015689

The picture (where the banner looks as if it was photo-shopped in) shows the claim:

73% of British Voters did not vote to Leave the EU

Is this True ?

The actual figures, from the Electoral Commission, allow many differing interpretations depending on your point of view.

Results and turnout at the EU referendum

The full results data is available at

Full set of EU referendum result data (csv)

or here.

Some interpretations

What you usually see is that 51.85% of actual votes were cast in favour of leaving the EU and 48.07% were cast in favour of remaining in the EU (with 0.08% of the votes being invalid) from a total of 33,578,037 votes cast.

However, you could also say that, based on the total electorate of 46,500,001 voters , 37.44% voted to Leave, 34.71% voted to Remain, 27.79% did not vote and 0.05% of ballot papers were invalid. ( i.e. 12,921,964 people did not use their vote)

therefore,

62.55% of possible voters did NOT vote to LEAVE the EU

alternatively

65.28% of possible voters did NOT vote to REMAIN in the EU

depending on your point of view.

Similarly votes by region can be interpreted depending on your point of view. For example, in Scotland, there are a possible 3,987,112 votes (electorate) so that based on the total electorate, 41.66% voted to Remain, 25.54% voted to leave, 32.75% did not vote and there were 0.04% invalid votes.

Using this basis,

74.45% of possible voters in Scotland did NOT vote to LEAVE the EU

alternatively

58.33% of possible voters in Scotland did NOT vote to REMAIN in the EU

Electorate by country

Total Electorate in the UK is 46,500,001

England: 38,981,662 (83.83%), 533 MPs

Scotland: 3,987,112.00 (8.6%), 59 MPs

Wales: 2,270,272 (4.88%) 40 MPs

Northern Ireland: 1,260,955 (2.71%) 18 MPs

PM’s Commons statement 3 October 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement in the House of Commons on Brexit negotiations: 3 October 2019.

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on the Government’s proposals for a new agreement with our European friends that would honour the result of the referendum and deliver Brexit on 31 October in an orderly way with a deal.

This Government’s objective has always been to leave with a deal, and these constructive and reasonable proposals show our seriousness of purpose. They do not deliver everything we would have wished. They do represent a compromise. But to remain a prisoner of existing positions is to become a cause of deadlock rather than breakthrough, so we have made a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, and to go the extra mile as time runs short.

Our starting point is that this House promised to respect the referendum before the vote. More people voted leave than voted for any political party in our history. The referendum must be respected. Both main parties promised at the 2017 election that they would respect the referendum and that there would be no second referendum. This House voted to trigger article 50 and has voted repeatedly to leave, yet it has also voted three times against the previous withdrawal agreement and for repeated delay. So, as I have emphasised time and again, there can be no path to a deal except by reopening the withdrawal agreement and replacing the so-called backstop.

PM to request Parliament be prorogued

The Prime Minister intends to request the current session of Parliament be prorogued from the evening of Tuesday 8 October, with a Queen’s Speech on Monday 14 October.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pms-intention-to-request-the-current-session-of-parliament-be-prorogued

Presumably this adheres to the conditions on prorogation as defined recently in the Supreme Court.

The Prime Minister has been consistently clear that he wants to set out a fresh legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech. He therefore intends to request that the current session of Parliament be prorogued from the evening of Tuesday 8 October, with a Quee’’s Speech on Monday 14 October.

The Government will seek to strengthen public services, improve infrastructure and connectivity across the country, tackle crime and enhance the integrity of the criminal justice system, while protecting our natural environment for the long-term.

The Prime Minister has today set out a fair and reasonable compromise for replacing the backstop and securing the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union with a deal. If a deal can be agreed at European Council, a central feature of the legislative programme will be to introduce a Withdrawal Agreement Bill and move at pace to secure its passage before 31 October.

These timings would mean Parliament is prorogued for the shortest time possible to enable all the necessary logistical preparations for a State Opening to be undertaken, including those done by the House Authorities.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said:

“I want to deliver on the people’s priorities. Through a Queen’s Speech, the Government will set out its plans for the NHS, schools, tackling crime, investing in infrastructure and building a strong economy. We will get Brexit done on 31 October and continue delivering on these vital issues.”

UK proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

The UK Government’s proposal to the EU for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was presented on 2 October 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-proposals-for-a-new-protocol-on-irelandnorthern-ireland

The Prime Minister wrote to Donald Tusk on 19 August 2019 setting out the UK’s position on the renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as this government’s desired final destination for a long-term relationship with the EU. Since then, the government has pursued discussions with the European Union on alternatives to the previous Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the so-called ‘backstop’.

This letter to the President of the European Commission and accompanying explanatory note, sent on 02 October 2019, set out the government’s proposal for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Dear Jean-Claude,

A Fair and Reasonable Compromise: UK Proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

There is now very little time in which to negotiate a new Agreement between the UK and the EU under Article 50. We need to get this done before the October European Council.

This Government wants to get a deal, as I am sure we all do. If we cannot reach one, it would represent a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible. Our predecessors have tackled harder problems: we can surely solve this one.

Both sides now need to consider whether there is sufficient willingness to compromise and move beyond existing positions to get us to an agreement in time. We are ready to do that, and this letter sets out what I regard as a reasonable compromise: the broad landing zone in which I believe a deal can begin to take shape.

Our proposed compromise removes the so-called “backstop” in the previous Withdrawal Agreement. I have explained the difficulties with this elsewhere, including the fact that it has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament. Equally importantly in this context, the backstop acted as a bridge to a proposed future relationship with the EU in which the UK would be closely integrated with EU custom arrangements and would align with EU law in many areas. That proposed future relationship is not the goal of the current UK Government. The Government intends that the future relationship should be based on a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory affairs and trade policy. In these circumstances the proposed “backstop” is a bridge to nowhere, and a new way forward must be found.

Accordingly we are now proposing a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. We are delivering the draft legal text of this Protocol to Task Force 50 today. I attach an explanatory note giving further detail of the proposal and I am making this letter and that note public today.

It is based around five elements:

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