At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it.” – Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The dramatic June 2016 referendum in which 51.9% voted to leave initiated a long and arduous journey with multiple elections, extensions, and cliff-hangers. Tomorrow, on 31 January 2020 at 11 p.m. GMT, the Brexit “finish line” will be crossed, concluding the process that was triggered when, in March 2017, the UK government invoked Article 50 and initiated the withdrawal procedure. Britain’s Parliament has now ratified a Withdrawal Agreement  with the EU via the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. The European Parliament, in turn, voted to approve the agreement yesterday. This means that all of the formal ratification procedures have now been completed.

But even with the divorce agreed, the UK and EU still face negotiation of the terms of their future relationship. A transition (implementation) phase will occur in the interim, lasting until 31 December 2020 (or longer, if the government exercises its one-time right in July 2020 to extend the transition for two years). Negotiations during the transition need to cover an enormous range of issues, including trade, customs, and regulatory alignment (or nonalignment). This includes a new legal framework for immigration control after January 2021, when the transition period is set to end.
Continue Reading Across the Brexit Finish Line – And Now What?

After almost a decade of coalition and minority governments in the United Kingdom (“UK”), Prime Minister Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority in the December 2019 General Election with the simple slogan: “Get Brexit Done.” This mandate meant that, after years of wrangling and tortuous procedural battles in Parliament, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill was passed and, on 23 January 2020, received Royal Assent to become law as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.  Just over three and a half years since the referendum, this means that the UK will formally leave the EU on 31 January 2020. But what happens next with respect to free movement?

Continue Reading European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 To Usher In Brexit on 31 January 2020

Members of Parliament narrowly passed an amendment during an emergency session on Saturday, October 19, 2019, to postpone the decision on whether to vote “yes” or “no” to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.  Parliament said it needed more time to review the deal, which Prime Minister Johnson concluded last week with European leaders.  The primary aim of the amendment is to ensure the UK cannot leave the EU on October 31, 2019, the current Brexit date, without enacting detailed legislation governing the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Saturday’s vote effectively required the Prime Minister to request a third extension of the withdrawal date, which would postpone Brexit until January 31, 2020.  Prime Minister Johnson, who had vowed never to seek an extension, sent an unsigned letter to the EU asking for the required three-month extension.  But he also sent a signed letter to European Council President Donald Tusk urging EU leaders to turn down the extension request, and has stated he will bring his proposal back before Parliament on Monday, October 21, 2019.


Continue Reading UK Parliament Passes Amendment to Postpone Brexit Vote in Emergency Session on Saturday, October 19, 2019

With the March 29, 2019 date for Brexit looming and no deal to address the separation yet approved, the House of Commons voted on March 14, 2019, to defer Brexit until at least June 30, 2019.  The vote of 413 in favor versus 202 against provided a clear majority of 211 for the government, a move that may avert the expected chaos that a “no deal” scenario would pose.

By law, however, the delay can only be authorized by the EU, with unanimous approval of the leaders of the remaining 27 countries in the bloc.  The prime minister faces a significant challenge in seeking that approval, as EU officials have said they will permit a delay only if Britain makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit.  Although the bloc could consider a delay to Brexit, it  has made clear that after two years negotiating with Ms. May, it is not open to more talks on her deal, meaning the prime minister needs to find a way to convince British lawmakers to accept it.

The prime minister thus plans to make a third attempt to have parliament agree to a divorce deal — which the MPs have already rejected twice — next week, in advance of an upcoming EU summit.  Lawmakers also rejected, by a vote of 334 to 85, a second referendum on EU membership.
Continue Reading MPs Vote To Extend Brexit Deadline for Three Months