Brexit Briefing: weekly news roundup

Unite Brexit Check’s weekly news briefing on the UK’s exit from the EU.

Check back every Friday for an overview of the week’s Brexit-related political, industrial and economic developments.

Brexit negotiations:

Brexit secretary David Davis told MPs during Wednesday’s select committee that parliament might not get the chance to ratify the final deal with the European Union until after March 2019, because it might not be concluded until the 11th hour. (Hansard)

Theresa May contradicted this during Prime Ministers’ Questions when she said she was “confident” that a deal would be achieved in time for parliament to “have the vote we committed to”. Davis’s department later sought to clarify his comment and stated he had been talking about a “hypothetical” situation.

The farce continued on Thursday when shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer forced Davis to come to the House of Commons to respond to an urgent question on the issue, to which the minister laughably responded “we have been very clear” that there could be no vote on the Brexit deal until it had been agreed.

Starmer described the situation as a “mess” and insisted it was not acceptable that there could be no deal until the European parliament voted on it, before the British parliament could. (Guardian)

Meanwhile Stefaan de Rynck, advisor to Michel Barnier, speaking at an Institute for Government seminar, said the EU didn’t want negotiations to go to the wire, but that Brussels was also braced for a no deal scenario.

He said the UK had to sign up to a method for calculating the Brexit divorce bill for talks to move on to trade. (Bloomberg)


A Brexit that damages Northern Ireland’s economy could encourage people to vote for a united Ireland in any future referendum, a survey by polling company LucidTalk indicated.

If a vote on the border was conducted today, 55 per cent of voters would vote for Northern Ireland to stay in the UK and 33 per cent against. But if the nation bears the brunt of a hard Brexit, the vote for joining with the republic would increase to 46 per cent. (Belfast Telegraph)

National university organisations across Europe warned that uncertainty about the UK’s continued involvement in European programmes after 2019 is already causing problems, and demanded faster progress in Brexit talks.

Leaders of higher education bodies said clarification was urgently needed on whether the UK would continue to be a part of European research and study abroad programmes after Brexit. (Guardian)

Some services sectors could lose their legal basis to export if the UK is unable to secure agreements covering access to the single market in services, the CBI warned.

Companies in some of the UK’s most successful exporting sectors, including financial services and airlines would be unable to export specific types of services because World Trade Organisation rules alone do not provide the legal basis to export services to the EU, the business organisation warned. (CBI)

In a gloomy week for car manufacturers, Ford became the latest automaker to blame Brexit for poor sales in Europe.

“Europe will be the only thing I can see in the results that will be a surprise,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters. “That decline is almost fully explained just by Brexit effects.” (Bloomberg)


Wales first minister Carwyn Jones warned that Brexit was sending Britain towards a constitutional crisis and that the government had to respond to the concerns of the Welsh and Scottish administrations.

He said David Davis had to change the EU withdrawal bill so that devolved powers returned to the devolved governments and not be “hijacked” by Westminster, otherwise Cardiff and Holyrood would withhold consent for it. (Sky)

Conservative rebels have warned David Davis that they are “deadly serious” about forcing concessions from the government on the EU withdrawal bill.

The bill starts its committee stage on 14 November more than two months after its second reading the Commons and with more than 300 amendments tabled. (Guardian)

HMRC permanent secretary Jon Thompson warned MPs on the public accounts committee that the department would need 5000 extra staff and £450m more in funding to support a no-deal Brexit situation. (Mirror)

In depth:

There are alternatives: late Brexit or no Brexit. Two years was never going to be long enough to repatriate responsibilities. (FT paywall)