Brexit after the June election

The Prime Minister called the June election in order to strengthen her domestic political position before the start of Brexit negotiations. She appears to have achieved the opposite and we now have a hung Parliament and a minority government. Nevertheless, for the time being the UK Government appears set on continuing with its pre election policy for a “hard” Brexit. It remains to be seen whether this is politically possible.

Whilst there has been a profound change in the UK’s political landscape, the Brexit process is unchanged and moves on relentlessly. Article 50 provides no flexibility in the timetable; the two year countdown to March 2019 continues and only the unanimous agreement of all Member States can change it.

Commentators have emphasised just how much needs to be achieved in that period if there is to be a workable agreement. In Brussels, the EU negotiating team reports that they are ready to start negotiations, and it is likely that negotiations of some sort will start next week.

Delivering Brexit will require a significant amount of domestic legislation and the previous government had intended to bring much of this legislation forward this year. The Great Repeal Bill is the centre piece, but bills covering such issues as immigration and trade will also be needed. Getting this legislation through without substantial change is critical to the smooth delivery of the Government’s Brexit plans. The Opposition has already signalled that it intends to table substantial amendments.

Some have suggested that the election marks the end of Brexit. At the moment this is very unclear. If a future government were to decide to cancel Brexit it would first have to resolve the discussed but unanswered question of whether Article 50 notice can be withdrawn. What is known, following the Miller case, is that legislation would be needed before the UK could attempt to withdraw Article 50 notice.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.