News & Insights

With 24 days to go what’s next?

Weekly Update on Brexit Negotiations: week commencing 7 December 2020

With less than 24 days to go until the end of Transition Period “significant differences remain” on the key issues.

A joint statement was issued after telephone talks between the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday confirmed gaps in three critical issues, which are level playing field, governance and fishing.

UK-EU talks continue in a final attempt to negotiate a trade deal. Michel Barnier and Lord Frost will meet in Brussels later today to assess whether these differences can be resolved before another Johnson-Von der Leyen call scheduled for this evening.

This is a busy week ahead with much of the action in the House of Parliament is on UK Internal Market Bill, where the Government will try to reverse the changes made by Peers. This is the Bill, containing measures that overrule parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year. The European Commission is currently taking legal proceedings against the UK for breach of this agreement.

Today in the Commons, the government will seek to reject amendments to the Bill made in the House of Lords. However, as the Bill has to be approved by both Houses in the same form, it will go back to the Lords for their consideration on Wednesday. This process will continue until a compromise is struck.

Monday 7 December

The UK Internal Market Bill returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords Amendments. MPs will have 61 Lords Amendments to consider, most notable being the Lords decision to remove six clauses of the Bill, which gave UK ministers powers to unilaterally re-interpret and disapply rules relating to the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain as set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol, more here.

In the House of Lords, Peers will hold the first day debate on report stage of the Trade Bill, which will provide the legal framework for the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy. This is one of the Government’s outstanding Brexit Bills, which must receive Royal Assent by the end of the year.

Tuesday 8 December

MPs will consider a Ways and Means Resolution – a resolution aimed to give consent to tax changes and to pave the way for the as yet unseen Taxation (Post Transition Period) Bill, which will be considered on Wednesday. It is expected that this new Bill will focus on VAT and post-Brexit customs duties related to the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Being a money bill, it cannot be amended in the Lords.

Meanwhile on the Committee corridor, these are the sessions to watch out for:

• The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee will hold a session on business and Brexit preparedness, hearing from sectors including food and drink, financial and related professional services, plastics and the automotive industry.
• The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will question the Environment Secretary, George Eustice MP, on post-transition food supply, the on-going fisheries negotiations with the EU and the impact of possible food tariffs and border disruptions in early 2021.

Four Delegated Legislation Committees will meet to consider post-transition regulations in relation to the trading of conflict minerals, the UK’s export control regime, immigration policy and the UK’s obligations under the NI Protocol in relation to EU Chemical rules.

The House of Lords will consider the same statutory instrument as MPs on EU chemical rules in Northern Ireland, but Baroness Hayman of Ullock has tabled a motion against it, arguing it fails to provide a cost analysis. Even if agreed to, this motion cannot stop or amend the instrument, it only enables Peers to put on record their dissent.

In the Scottish Parliament, there will be a Ministerial Statement on the Scottish Government’s preparations for the end of Transition Period.

Members of the Welsh Senedd have the opportunity to vote on a Legislative Consent Motion for the UK Internal Market Bill. So far, the Welsh Government have recommended that the Senedd withhold their consent.

Wednesday 9 December

In the House of Commons, the Taxation (Post Transition Period) Bill will go through the second reading and committee stages and there will be further opportunities for its final amendments next week.

Meanwhile on the committee corridor:

In the Welsh Senedd, Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for European Transition, will question Members on preparations for the end of Transition Period.

Over in the Northern Ireland Assembly, members of the Lords Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee will speak to the Committee for the Executive Office about the programme for establishing UK-wide common frameworks, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Thursday 10 December

The Government has set aside time in the Commons for consideration of any Lord Amendments to the UK Internal Market Bill.

Lastly, the Committee on the Future Relationship will hear evidence on the latest state of play in the negotiations with the EU.

Looking ahead

• 10-11 December: Final European meeting of the year
• 14-17 December: Final European plenary session of the year
• 31 December: Date in law for the end of the transition period