Brexit - what now?

Brexit - what now?

What happens after 11pm on Friday 31 January 2020? 

Leave date? 

The UK will leave the EU at 11pm on Friday 31 January 2020. 

What will change now?

There will be no immediate change to:


• Right to work checks

• Immigration


• Employment legislation based on European law e.g. holiday pay rights 


The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and EU (Withdrawal) Act 2020 contain provisions that effectively put any changes on hold until the implementation period is complete.  


However, the UK will not be allowed to take part in EU institutions, governance structures and decisions etc. 


What is the implementation period?

From 11pm on Friday 31 January 2020 to 11pm on 31 December 2020 (unless extended). 


The implementation period is a hold on the legal provisions between the UK and the EU. During this time the UK and the EU can negotiate on the new terms of their future relationship; largely based on the Withdrawal Agreement treaty and accompanying Political Declaration.  


The treaty and declaration set out the administrative arrangements associated with the UK’s exit, the UK’s financial obligations as a withdrawing state and provisions confirming and protecting the rights of UK citizens residing in the EU and EU citizens residing in the UK. 


They also contain provisions relating to the implementation, governance, dispute settlement and enforcement terms of the withdrawal and any transitional arrangements. Detail about Ireland and Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus is included too.  


Please note, the Political Declaration is an aspirational text intended to guide the negotiations between the EU and the UK. It is not legally binding. 


Can the implementation period be extended?

Any extension has to be by mutual consent of the European Joint Committee by 1 July 2020. However, the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 effectively prohibits any extension because it forbids any minister from being able to vote to agree such an extension. Primary legislation would need to be passed in the UK to amend the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to enable an extension.


So, what is actually happening for the next 11 months?

The UK must continue to follow its obligations under EU law and submit to the laws of the European Court of Justice. 


UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals resident in the UK (before 31 December 2020) will enjoy largely the same rights as before the UK’s exit.


Businesses can continue to trade across EU markets. 


During the implementation period, the UK will: 

  • Remain part of the EU single market and customs union
  • Implement and adhere to EU laws as normal
  • Apply the EU customs code to imports into the UK from third countries
  • Respect the freedoms of movement of: goods, people, services and capital
  • Be subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union
  • The UK can negotiate trade deals as an independent trading nation (even in areas of exclusive EU competence) as long as the agreements don’t come into force until after the implementation period ends. 


Could there still be a no deal? 


The UK and EU reached an agreement to enable the UK to leave the EU on Friday 31 January 2020. 


This is not an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. This is subject to negotiation between the UK and the other EU member states. 


Because of the multiple extensions to the withdrawal period, the period for negotiation is now only 11 months. If no agreement is reached during the implementation period, a no deal is still possible and contingency plans may have to be implemented. 


Previous guidance and legislation on a no deal may be relevant and the government has acknowledged that it would default to the World Trade Organisation terms for trade in a no-deal. 


Once the REC has sight of any updates we will release them on our Brexit Hub

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