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Government Update: Minority Government, Single Market and Free Trade DealBack

Government

The Prime Minister Theresa May now has a minority Government, with support from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The Conservatives and the Democratic Unionists have come to a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement, whereby the DUP agrees to support the government on motions of confidence, the Queen’s Speech, the Budget and all other finance and money bills.

Some of the details included in the agreement are:

  • The DUP agrees to support the Government on legislation pertaining to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, in line with the two parties’ shared priorities.
  • They will also support the Government on matters concerning national security. All other matters will be agreed on a case by case basis.
  • A co-ordination committee will be convened to ensure the two parties work together and guarantee the necessary support. This will be chaired by the Government.
  • The Conservative Party reaffirms its commitment to Northern Ireland remaining within the United Kingdom and both parties commit to the principles set out in the Belfast Agreement.
  • Over the next two years, £1 billion extra funding will be provided for Northern Ireland, in addition to the £500 million funding previously announced.
  • The agreement is to remain in place for the length of Parliament and will be reviewed after each Parliamentary session or by the mutual consent of both parties.

Brexit

David Davis, Brexit Secretary of State, in charge of the UK’s exit from the EU, stated on Tuesday (June 27) that elements of Brexit make ‘landing on the moon look simple’. Davis made the remark to business leaders, at an event hosted by The Times, as he discussed the interim arrangements that will be in place after the UK leaves the EU.

Key points made:

“My job is to bring back control of migration to Westminster, it is not to slam the door on immigration. We will bring immigration down but in a way and at a pace that does not cause labour shortages or, worse, undermine the nation’s need for new talent”, Davis stated.

Davis said that a “new international body” – not the European Court of Justice (EJC) – would monitor new trade arrangements. However, it is difficult under current agreements to see how this will work in practice as one of the EU’s key principles is the supremacy of the EJC.

Asked whether the UK would be out of the customs union in March 2019 – and therefore able to strike its own international trade deals – he replied: “I would have thought so.”

Davis was also asked whether the UK would remain in the EU single market during the transition phase. “No, no” he replied, adding that the government had taken “as written” the public’s desire to control immigration, which could not be done as a single market member.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has also told the BBC he is “pretty sure”, but not “certain”, that he will be able to get a free trade deal with the EU. He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that other EU states “have a very strong interest in getting a good deal”. But he said that if the UK was only offered a “punishment deal” then it had to be prepared to “walk away”.

Britain’s Chancellor Philip Hammond also addressed Brexit at a speech in Berlin on Tuesday (June 27), emphasizing the importance of a close relationship between Britain and the EU after Brexit.

Finally, the Government has promised a “phased process of implementation” – or “transition period” – to avoid a “cliff-edge” scenario as new arrangements kick in.

Northern Ireland: Stormont power-sharing talks extended to Monday

The timeframe to reach an agreement to restore a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland has been extended to Monday as parties failed to reach a deal before the initial Thursday’s deadline. If no deal is reached by Monday, Northern Ireland could face the possibility of direct rule from Westminster. However, the parties could be given again more time to negotiate, or another assembly election could be called.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 30/06/2017