RPP What role for the UK Parliament in Brexit?

Overview

The week just gone was fairly positive from a Brexit perspective for Theresa May. There was some embarrassment for her with a recording of her meeting with Goldman Sachs before the referendum being leaked. She was heard saying "I think economic arguments are clear. I think being part of a 500 million trading bloc is significant for us. I think, as I was saying to you earlier, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is in Europe". However, Mrs May has been clear that despite her personal position of campaigning for Remain, she is now enacting the will of the British people. Brexit means Brexit and so on.

On a more positive note, news that Nissan would be manufacturing two of its new models at its Sunderland factory, safeguarding 7,000 jobs. Nissan's Chief Executive has said that government support has led to the decision to keep manufacturing in the UK. Japan previously said in September that future investment in the British car industry was depended on guarantee of compensation if the UK struck a deal with the EU that led to tariffs on exports. Number 10 are denying that any guarantee of compensation was achieved, and that big companies will be getting special treatment. It has been reported that the pharmaceutical sector is now calling on the Government to support its sector in a similar fashion to the car industry. The Government was also buoyed by the news that the UK economy grew by 0.5% in quarter 3, from July to September, after the Brexit vote. That was slower than the 0.7% rate in the previous quarter, but stronger than analysts’ estimates of 0.3%. Alongside the announcement that Nissan will be continuing to invest in the UK, from an economic perspective the news has been very positive. There is a note of caution however for the UK economy with predictions that inflation could rise significantly over the 2% target in 2017, due to the falling value of the £.

Highlights

  • The role of the Brexit Select Committees in Parliament continued to be in the news again last week. Hilary Benn, new chair of the Brexit committee, has said that Parliament will want to vote on the negotiating plan. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show that “Nobody is asking for a running commentary, but I think it is right and proper that parliament should first have a chance to express a view of what our negotiating objectives are going to be.” Benn also said that Parliament would not be voting on Article 50 but would vote on the government’s negotiating objectives. For more information please read our article below.
  • On Article 50, the court challenge in Northern Ireland, which questioned whether the British Government had the right to trigger it without the consent of the Northern Irish Assembly due to the Good Friday Agreement was rejected. The high court case in London on whether the Government can use the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 is due to return its verdict on Thursday 3rd November.
  • Sir Simon Fraser a former senior civil servant at the foreign office has said that the Prime Minister will have to negotiate an interim agreement on Britain’s future relationship with the EU, particularly as he predicts that the deals will take longer than two years. He said at a speech for the Institute for Government that the EU will impose an economic and political price tag for Brexit to make clear to other EU states that “it is not a good idea to leave”.
  • On the other hand, Roberto Azevedo, head of the World Trade Organisation, has vowed to ensure Britain will not face a trade "vacuum or a disruption", however tough its exit from the European Union. He said that he did not believe the Brexit vote was "antitrade" and dismissed fears that Britain could suffer a sudden seizure of trade during or after its negotiations with the EU.
  • Finally, the long running saga over the EU-Canadian free trade deal (CETA) has been resolved, with the objections of the Walloonian regional government overcome. This is clearly good news for free trade, but could it be a starting point for discussions on a potential deal between the EU and UK. It has certainly but suggested as such by some commentators in the UK, but as CETA took seven years to agree, this shows that Brexit negotiations aren't going to quick or easy.


Written by RPP Head of London Office, Andrew Brown

Commission Work Program for 2017 debated in Strasbourg

MEPs demanded an EU work programme to be in line with genuine concerns and expectations of the Europeans. In their debate with Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Tuesday, they heavily focused on the social dimensions of EU policies, investment, trade, migration and security. For the first time, aims and priorities agreed between Parliament, Council and Commission for the year to come will be written down in a joint declaration to be signed in December. The Commission’s programme for next year includes 21 key initiatives, 18 revisions of existing legislation and the repeal of 16 laws which have become obsolete. The Commission also wants to withdraw 19 pending legislative proposals and “put the emphasis on implementation and enforcement”, said Commission First Vice-President Timmermans. The Commission had identified 10 priority areas to address the most pressing challenges, the Commission aims for:

  1. to boost jobs, growth and investment, the European Commission will propose a Youth Initiative, an Action Plan on the implementation of the Circular Economy and a new Multi-annual financial framework;
  2. it will carry out a mid-term review of the Digital Single Market;
  3. it will implement the Energy Union Strategy with work on low-emission vehicles and mobility;
  4. it will build a deeper and fairer internal market by implementing the Single Market Strategy, Space Strategy for Europe and Capital Markets Union Action Plan, and make proposals for fairer taxation of companies;
  5. it will present ideas for the reform of the EU27 and the strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union, and it will propose a European Pillar of Social Rights;
  6. it will implement the Trade for All Strategy and pursue trade negotiations with its partners while strengthening its trade defence instruments;
  7. it will continue to pursue a Security Union to fight terrorism and will align the rules on the protection of personal data and privacy;
  8. it will deliver on the European Agenda on Migration;
  9. to strengthen Europe’s role as a global actor, the European Commission will present a European Defence Action Plan including a European Defence Fund. The Commission and the High Representative will adopt an EU Strategy for Syria and implement the EU Global Strategy and Africa-EU Partnership;
  10. it will adapt existing laws to the Treaty provisions on delegated and implementing acts and will assess the democratic legitimacy of existing procedures for adopting certain secondary EU acts. Finally, the European Commission will step up efforts to enforce EU law.


During the debate, some members expressed disappointment regarding the absence in the Work Programme of a series of European Parliament priorities set out in the resolution voted on 6th July, such as a "social pillar”. This cross-party resolution called for more ambitious and effective European solutions, strongly anchored in a more democratic process, which aim to respond to EU citizens’ concerns about the big challenges the EU faces, from the economy, to attacks on fundamental rights and increasing security threats.

In particular, Liberals and Democrats believe that the Commission should do more to focus on the bigger issues that EU citizens care about and must be more ambitious in putting in place measures to tackle these. Others advocated focusing even more closely on investment, security, and economic recovery. The challenges posing the EU are migration flows, the threat of terrorism and Brexit as well as EU trade policy issues, e.g. CETA, were frequently raised in the debate.

Special reference had been made to the REFIT program of the European Commission: REFIT is the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance program. According to the European Commission, “its objective is to review the existing stock of EU legislation to ensure it remains fit for purpose and delivers the results intended. It aims to keep the body of EU law lean and healthy, remove unnecessary burdens and adapt existing legislation without compromising on our ambitious policy objectives.” Therefore, the Commission has created a high-level group of experts, which includes national experts from the Member States as well as other Advisory Bodies, businesses and civil society. They will provide advice on how to make EU regulation more effective by reducing burden and costs while at the same time not undermining the leading policy objectives. The European Commission explained that “the REFIT Platform has adopted 22 Opinions across a wide area of EU regulation including e-privacy, chemicals regulation, financial services, health and food safety, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Cohesion Policy and VAT. The REFIT Scoreboard sets out the Commission’s follow-up to the REFIT Platform option.” Within each policy area, that scoreboard provides a timeline and groups related initiatives by policy area or subject. Each entry includes a summary and information on the progress at each step of the policy cycle. Interestingly, the Commission Work Program for 2017 does not include a specific Brexit chapter…


Also from Strasbourg, German MEP Inge Graessle demands that the London based EU Agencies should be re-located:

Against the backdrop of Brexit, German Christian-Democrat MEP Inge Graessle (EPP) told RPP this week that “Europe’s banking centres should actively approach American banks in the UK and enable them to move to Frankfurt, for example. European Agencies will also have to leave London and should be relocated within the EU. 20,000 jobs in American banks in London are out for re-location and re-distribution, as well as the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). And I would advise our mayors to provide land for British companies who are willing to relocate their facilities. The UK wants obviously a hard-Brexit – with all its consequences”, explained Ms Graessle who has her constituency in the state of Baden-Württtemberg which is also one of the economic powerhouses in Germany, e.g. industrial giants like Mercedes-Benz, Würth, Bosch and Porsche are based there.

Written by RPP Senior Director Advocacy and Policy, Thomas Krings

Brexit – The role of the Parliamentary Committees in the Negotiating Process.

The UK Parliament’s committee system has strengthened in recent years and that process of committee members holding the executive to account has never been more important than over the Brexit negotiations. The importance of Parliamentary Committees was recently underlined with the election of MPs to the House of Common’s newly established “Brexit Committee”. This committee is larger than normal with 21 MPs.

The Committee for Exiting the European Union will be chaired by the former Labour Minister and MP for Leeds Central, Hilary Benn. Hilary’s most recent posting was as Shadow Foreign Secretary under the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn MP and he is seen as being respected on all sides of the political divide.

Other prominent Committee Members include the former Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove MP, a leading Leave campaigner who controversially stood for the Conservative Party Leadership earlier this year having previously backed Boris Johnson MP. The former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale MP, is also a Member and a former Leave campaigner. Prominent Remain campaigners include Alistair Burt MP, the former Health Minister, and Jeremy Lefroy MP, who has also been involved in health issues.

This comes as an increasing amount of detail about Brexit is announced via the media, through interviews and leaks, including the so-called “deal” between the UK Government and Nissan whereby “tariff-free access” was guaranteed.

Some have said that the “Brexit Committee” has been made larger than is normal for deliberate, to frustrate the committee with a wide mix of vocal Leave and Remain supporters. This has been a problem with the Parliamentary committee system in the past, with a membership that is too large and their remit too wide for them to properly hold the Government to account. However, recent reforms to how committees have their members selected (through secret ballot) have meant that they are now more independently minded and have recently produced reports that have been highly critical of the Government, including in foreign affairs.

This new independence, which has also meant that the different Chairs of Committees tend to be more rigorous in their scrutiny of the Government’s work, should serve the UK Committee system well in its scrutiny of the Brexit negotiation process. Indeed, it is not only the Brexit Committee which has been tasked with scrutinising the Brexit process.

The Health Committee, chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston who switched from the Leave campaign to Remain, is carrying out an inquiry, as is the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Justice Committee and the Committee for Culture, Media and Sport. Given that two new Government Departments were established under the current Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, there are Brexit inquiries at International Trade Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee also. There will also be committees scrutinising Brexit in the House of Lords. It can therefore be said that, with its new-found independence, the work of the Parliamentary Committees has the capacity to hold the Government to account but it is an open question as to whether they will use its powers to the full. Time will tell.

Full List of the members of the Committee for Exiting EU:

Leave

  • Maria Caulfield (Conservative)
  • Michael Gove (Conservative)
  • Andrea Jenkyns (Conservative)
  • Peter Lilley (Conservative)
  • Carl McCartney (Conservative)
  • Craig Mackinlay (Conservative)
  • Dominic Raab (Conservative)
  • John Whittingdale (Conservative)
  • Sammy Wilson (DUP) 


Remain

  • Hilary Benn, Chair (Labour)
  • Pat McFadden (Labour)
  • Seema Malhotra (Labour)
  • Emma Reynolds (Labour)
  • Stephen Timms (Labour)
  • Alistair Burt (Conservative)
  • Jeremy Lefroy (Conservative)
  • Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem)
  • Joanna Chery (SNP)
  • Peter Grant (SNP)
  • Johnathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru)


Written by RPP Director of Advocacy and Policy UK, Mark Walker

RPP Brexit Offering

RPP has been providing a monitoring and newsletter service for its clients since the referendum result in June. We hope you've enjoyed this service and found it useful. Thank you for all the positive feedback we've received.

We have recently received lots of requests from many different organisations to assist them with understanding how Brexit could impact on their organisation, and what they can do to influence the negotiating process.

The RPP Brexit team would be delighted to discuss the Brexit needs of your organisation.

What Brexit can mean for you and your organisation
The impact of Brexit, the uncertainty around healthcare provisions in the UK, the regulation of the European Life Science Sectors, as well as the changes to political institutions in the EU and UK represent huge challenges for business and non-profit organisations in the months and years to come.

With the UK leaving the European Union, the UK must not only redefine its relationship with the EU, but many existing laws and regulations in the UK will also have to be revised and updated. This creates great uncertainty regarding the continuation of existing rules, but also political opportunities to shape future legislation. Patient organisations, professional associations, researchers and industry active in the EU or UK must understand these changes, respond to potential threats and harness upcoming opportunities.

RPP can be your partner in understanding and responding to Brexit. We are the largest independent healthcare consultancy for advocacy in Brussels and Europe. RPP has a strong presence in the most important European Member States and a proven track record in promoting health and science policy in the EU and UK. If you are concerned how Brexit can affect you and need an interpreter between your organisation’s needs and the politics that affect them, then consider how RPP can support you.

What RPP can offer you

Monitoring – on the ground updates on Brexit News:
With our main office in Brussels and an office in London our staff are a regular sight in the corridors of the European institutions, the halls of Westminster and corridors of Whitehall. We can provide you with fast information that can affect your organisation.

Analysis – of what Brexit means for you:
Tailored to your needs. Our specialised team can readily assess what Brexit could mean for your organisation and what steps you may need to take. RPP’s most senior staff can provide you with
strategic advice to identify political opportunities provided by Brexit.

Advocacy – give you a presence in London, Brussels and other major capitals:
With a strong track record for translating your organisation‘s needs into policy action, RPP will work with you to ensure your voice is heard and your interests represented. We can help you
to develop policy goals based on your organisation’s objectives and implement advocacy programmes using the latest political, visual communication and digital campaigning tools at our
disposal.

RPP responds to each client individually. We have a wide array of expertise for different aspects of the healthcare and life science sectors. For more information or a detailed proposal, please contact brexit@rpp-group.com.

Written by RPP Head of London Office, Andrew Brown and RPP Corporate Office Manager, Daniel Fischer