Posted on December 12, 2016
The Legal Challenges
The Government has now gone to the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the High Court ruling that both houses of Parliament will have a say before Article 50 can be triggered. The 11 Supreme Court judges are currently examining the Government’s case and will rule in early January. It is expected that the government will lose, putting pressure on both the House of Commons and the House of Lords to push through the Government’s strategy ahead of the Article 50 trigger, still due to happen before the end of March 2017. To make matters more complicated, a new legal challenge to stop the UK Government leaving the European Economic Area has been launched, claiming it has no mandate to do so.
These are unwelcome distractions from the main task at hand for the Government, who remain under intense pressure to articulate some measure of Brexit strategy. In addition, one of the Leavers, MP Gisella Stuart, is calling for the Government to confirm that EU nationals can remain in the UK. The Government has countered by linking any decision on EU nationals to bilateral agreements with EU member states on how UK expats will be treated. Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to address this issue by pursuing some option that ensures UK nationals in the EU are protected in exchange for allowing EU nationals’ security to remain in the UK. That said, she continues to be circumspect, adhering to her ‘no running commentary’ policy. However, the main priority for the UK seems to be looking to balance policies to control immigration with access to the single market and customs union.
Meanwhile, the EU has been drip feeding some potential policy ideas ahead of the negotiations. For example, there has been a suggestion that UK nationals will have the right to remain in the EU should they wish to do so. But the Commission and member states’ are clear that the UK cannot cherry pick bits of the freedom of goods, services and people.
Elsewhere in Europe
Meanwhile in Italy, President Sergio Mattarella has bought some time after the failure of the Constitutional referendum and subsequent resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, by appointing Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni as caretaker Prime Minister. Cinque Stelle and Berlusconi’s Forza have boycotted joining any caretaker government with the timing of a general election uncertain — PM Gentiloni technically has until the end of this parliamentary session in 2018 but may go to the polls earlier than that. The incoming prime minister has a number of significant immediate problems to address, including: forming a Government, getting Lower and Upper House approval and bailing out the Italian banks, including the close to collapsing Monte Paschi di Siena, Italy’s third largest bank. All of this must be accomplished by the end of this week.
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