Brexit: The divorce begins...

Wondering how Brexit will affect you? PLMR's Zoe Chadwick is here with her version of the latest events and what it all means for you and those in the equestrian industry. 

Bargaining Brexit 

Its official – the Brexit negotiations have begun!

Almost exactly one year after the EU referendum, the UK has formally started negotiating with the EU, looking to agree the best way for the UK to extricate itself from the union. 

Prior to the negotiations beginning, Brexit secretary David Davis was keen to be on the front foot and get straight to the contentious and vital issue of future trading agreements – the issue that countless businesses are waiting with baited breath for clarification on.

But despite his intentions, Davis was quickly shot down by the EU who have said, in no uncertain terms, that the EU and UK first had to agree the ‘divorce terms’ before embarking on any discussions about trade.

This wasn’t a great start for Davis, and when he does get to the time to discuss trading agreements, he has said that he is ‘pretty sure’ but not ‘certain’ of securing a free trade deal.

This is not the firm assurance that many businesses were hoping for. 

What do we know so far?

EU citizens 

So while we wait for the divorce terms to be agreed, we do have a bit more clarity on what the future holds for EU citizens living in the UK – an issue which will affect many equestrian businesses with EU citizens among its workforce. 

The Prime Minister has proposed that:

  • EU citizens who have been living in Britain before a specified date and have completed a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK can apply for settled status.
  • EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date, but who haven't accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK until they have accumulated five years, after which they'll be eligible to apply for settled status.
  • EU citizens who arrived after the specified date will be allowed to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period and may become eligible to settle permanently, depending on their circumstances – but they should have no expectation of guaranteed settled status.
  • Dependent relatives can also apply if they join an EU national before Brexit and have been living here for five years.
  • The ‘specified date’ will be no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. 

EU leaders didn't respond positively to these proposals.

Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council said that the offer was “below our expectations”.

It's very clear that these proposals are going to be subject to much debate over the coming months, but this gives you an idea of the Government’s thinking.

I'll keep you posted as discussions continue.

The Queen’s Speech 

Last week, the Conservatives’ legislative plan was unveiled in the Queen’s Speech. As expected, the speech focused heavily on Brexit – and a ‘hard’ Brexit at that.

The Queen said “My Government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union”, and stated that Theresa May plans to remove the UK from the customs union and the single market, and bring to an end free movement of EU citizens.

Single Market and Customs Union

This week, MPs voted on the Queen's Speech. Three Labour MPs tabled an amendment to the speech, calling for Britain to remain within the customs union and single market.

This was defeated by a majority of 221, and the Queen’s Speech was passed unamended. 

And what about the DUP?

You may remember from my last blog that the Conservatives were in discussions with the DUP about a deal to ensure that the Conservatives get the parliamentary support they need to pass its legislation.

It took a little while, but eventually, the two parties reached a deal. The deal, which was signed and sealed this week, states:

The DUP agrees to support the government on all motions of confidence; and on the Queen’s speech; the Budget; finance bills; money bills, supply and appropriation legislation and estimates … the DUP also agrees to support the government on legislation pertaining to the UK’s exit from the EU and legislation pertaining to national security.

In return, DUP received £1bn from the UK Government.

And so it continues…

There’s certainly never a dull day in politics at the moment – both domestically and in the EU, there’s so much going on, and I’ll keep you up to date which the key facts as the Government seeks to push its agenda through at home and abroad.