ABHI Membership

ABHI Brexit Update: To be a Fly on the Wall

Given that the past two days have seen the third last meeting of the European Council before the UK leaves the Union, it may seem surprising that there is very little to report on Brexit. In truth, far more was always expected of October’s summit, especially so once it became clear that the UK Government’s White Paper, detailing specifics of a negotiating position, would not be ready this week. 

It is also true that other issues were dominating the thoughts of European leaders. The EU migration crisis and next month’s NATO summit, with the future security of the West seemingly hinging on the unconventional, unique and rather special approach to international diplomacy adopted by the President of the United States, were just two.

It is just possible that Brexit has been put into context.

Talks on migration occupied the period of the meeting that coincided with the Prime Minister’s attendance, and it will not have been lost on her that 28 leaders were able to agree a compromise on something that was also seen as a red line by another Member State. Italy in this case. As the PM departed, the remaining EU27 leaders paused just long enough to observe that no progress had been made on the Irish border question, and hoped that the UK’s firm proposals would be grounded in reality.

Attention, then, will now turn to the Cabinet’s away day at Chequers next Friday, where details of that White Paper will be hammered out.

What price to be a fly on the wall there?

To get in the mood, spend the weekend binge watching “The Thick of It” and take yourself to the darkest corners of Armando Iannucci’s mind, and you might just have an idea. Pundits are predicting any number of resignations and it will not be a comfortable event for our beleaguered PM.

One sobering fact has emerged this week.

Accounting for holidays, there are just six weeks of negotiating time available before the EC meeting in October. It has been assumed that the full details of Britain’s departure and future arrangements would need to be agreed by then, to allow time for ratification by respective Parliaments before the Brexit date in March next year. The prospect of a delay becomes ever more likely, something that the House of Commons Brexit Committee has called for this week. 

For those of you who need more of a Brexit fix this weekend, you could do worse than look at the latest report from our friends at Baker McKenzie. Those of you who attended our event in April will have enjoyed Jennifer Revis’s thoughts on trade post Brexit. Here, Jennifer and colleagues explore the perspective from the rest of the EU.