Two years since the EU Referendum and the message from business continues to be 'plan for the worst, hope for the best' says Charles Brasted, Hogan Lovells

Charles Brasted, Partner in the Hogan Lovells Brexit Taskforce said, “This coming Saturday sees the second anniversary of the EU Referendum. This week's passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill by Parliament is an essential milestone in the process towards Brexit on 29 March 2019. The Government will now need to begin work enacting a flurry of statutory instruments using powers granted to it by the Withdrawal Bill to bring into UK post-Brexit law all of the EU law rules and mechanisms that they have promised to maintain.

"No aspect of the UK legal system will be left untouched by this 'storm' of secondary legislation, which will, among other things, need to transfer functions currently performed by the EU to new or existing UK public bodies to ensure that the UK legal order continues to function in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit.

 

"There are, however, many more milestones to be passed as well as a significant number of challenges that need to be overcome before the UK's formal withdrawal from the EU in March next year.  

 

"Next week, the Prime Minister will head to the EU Summit to update them on the UK's progress, following which the EU27 leaders are expected to issue their conclusions on the state of the Brexit negotiations.  With very little process having been made since March, most notably on the Northern Irish border issue, many are expecting the EU27 to call for contingency planning for 'no deal' to be accelerated.  We are already seeing clients accelerate their own contingency plans, including for the possibility a disorderly exit with no withdrawal agreement in place.  Although 80% of the Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed, crucial aspects are unagreed and there will be no agreement unless it can all be resolved.

 

"Looking to the future relationship, the UK Government has committed to publishing its long-delayed White Paper, billed as the most comprehensive statement of the UK Government's position on Brexit since the referendum, soon after the Summit.  Businesses in a whole range of industry sectors will be hoping that the White paper includes detailed and precise explanations of the Government's plans regarding the future UK-EU relationship, to form a solid basis for what will be, at best, very time-constrained negotiations later this year.  

 

"Both the UK and the EU are still aiming to agree the Withdrawal Agreement and a political declaration on the framework of the future relationship by October this year.  However, if significant progress is not made over the summer, this target may need to be revised.  Some already believe agreement is not likely until late 2018 or even early 2019.  The message from business continues to be 'plan for the worst, hope for the best'.  The focus on the former is certainly growing by the day."


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