The recent round of Brexit negotiations has been challenged by the United Kingdom (UK) Government’s plans for an ‘internal market’, outlined in the UK Internal Market Bill. The proposed domestic legislation published on 9 September aims to establish a UK-wide set of standards that would enable a larger degree of flexibility in future trade talks. European figures have complained of an “unprecedented breach of trust” as the Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis stated that the government plans to go against the Treaty in a “specific and limited way”. The EU has told the government to withdraw certain parts of the Bill “in the shortest time possible”. It has also given the UK 20 days to back down on plans to alter the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement or risk collapsing trade talks and face legal action for breaking an international treaty. The UK said that it “will not back down”. This has received international attention too with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, stating that if the UK Government violates the international treaty, there would be “absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress”. The Internal Market Bill also sets out the UK Government’s post-Brexit plans for subsidy control and state aid.
The UK’s Prime Minister (PM), Boris Johnson, announced on 7 September that a UK-EU agreement should to be reached in time for the European Council meeting on 15 October 2020. He stated that the UK is still working closely with the EU to agree to a free trade agreement but that there is “no sense in thinking about timelines” that extend beyond 15 October.
On 15 June 2020, the UK's PM, Boris Johnson, and European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, agreed to rule out an extension to the transition period for the UK leaving the European Union (EU). The deadline for the UK to ask for an extension has now passed (1 July 2020). The UK will be trading with the EU under new arrangements after 31 December 2020. Due to the real possibility that a UK-EU trade deal will not be reached before the 26 November 2020 deadline, the UK may be trading on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms next year. Though the decision to not extend the transition period beyond December 2020 provides businesses with some level of certainty, the ‘cliff-edge’ surrounding the future of trade between the UK and the EU coupled with the unrest caused by COVID-19 still looms large.
Click to download our Key Questions document, in which we answer some of the most frequently asked Brexit-related questions. This is a live document. It will be updated in accordance with the progress of UK-EU negotiations.
Leon Cook is Founder and Managing Director at Atticus Communications