View from Norfolk Chambers: Brexit Update

  • Norfolk business community has to continue to assume that leaving the EU without a deal is a very real prospect

As Parliament comes towards the summer recess period – we thought we would give Norfolk businesses a quick update on Brexit and the current political situation.

Everyone is now very aware that we will shortly have a new Conservative Party leader, and in turn, the next UK Prime Minister – the result of which will be announced on 23 July.  The House of Commons will then go into the summer recess on 25 July.  But what are the positions of the PM candidates regarding Brexit?

Boris Johnson has said that he would ensure that the UK leaves the EU on 31 October with or without an exit deal. While he has said that leaving without a deal is not his preferred option, he has not ruled this out.

Jeremy Hunt has said that - in extremis - he would be prepared to leave the EU without an exit deal. If there is the prospect of achieving a deal, however, he would prefer a further extension. Should it not be possible to secure a new deal, he would back a no deal exit ‘with a heavy heart’.

Regardless of the position of the incoming Prime Minister, it will ultimately be Parliament that decides what happens next on Brexit.

In the meantime, the Labour have a new position on Brexit.  They have suggested that they will back a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal before it is implemented. It would depend on the content of the deal as to whether they would back the exit deal or remaining in the European Union in this ballot. This position may be subject to change when the Labour Party sets its policy at its annual conference in September.

Attempts to prevent no deal

There continues to be attempts from Parliamentarians to prevent a no-deal exit on 31 October. There are reports that a number of Conservative MPs will back an attempt from Philip Hammond, the current Chancellor, to prevent a no deal exit.

This week an amendment passed to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill that requires UK government to update the House of Commons on progress made in the formation of an executive in Northern Ireland. This requires the House to be sitting to debate the government update and is designed to make it harder for a new Prime Minister to prorogue the House of Commons to ensure a 31 October exit. Proroguing Parliament means that the parliamentary session would end, and no further business could be debated or voted on in either House until the Prime Minister chose to convene the House for the Queens Speech and the next session of Parliament would then begin.

Commenting on the current state of play, Nova Fairbank, Head of Policy for Norfolk Chambers of Commerce said:

“The Norfolk business community has to continue to assume that leaving the EU without a deal is a very real prospect and we would encourage all firms to think through the implications for their business, if they have not already done so.”

“We are working with the British Chambers of Commerce and continue to lobby in Westminster with the various government departments to try to get clarity for business.  They have recently updated their Brexit Risk Register and the Brexit Checklist. – please have a look as these are good tools to consider some of the most frequently asked questions and decide what your organisation needs to do.”

Also helping to support local businesses, New Anglia Growth Hub are running a free to attend Brexit event at the Forum in Norwich on Wednesday 25 July 2019 – book your place now.

If you have any further questions or need some specific advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with nova Fairbank on email: nova.fairbank@norfolkchamber.co.uk

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