There's a long road ahead, so Jack Simpson looks at the key dates leading up to the UK's departure from the European Union.
24-26th August: Biarritz G7 Summit
This is a summit of the seven world leaders from “advanced economies”, plus an EU representative but minus China and Russia. This will be the first time Boris Johnson will meet other EU leaders to deliver his Brexit message, while receiving the EU’s in turn.
It will also be the first meeting of new EU President, Ursula Von Der Leyen, who favours another Brexit extension over No Deal. The outcome, or tone, of this exchange will shape the coming months of Brexit negotiations and influence the Government’s stance about the October 31st deadline.
3rd September: Parliament Returns
With time running out, some are hoping that Labour will attack straight away and table a No Confidence motion in Boris Johnson. But opposite leaders are cautious about the number of rebels they could attract, and could wait for Johnson to make a mistake, which I am sure will not be too far off…
9th September: Northern Ireland Debate
What is for sure, is that Parliament will challenge a No Deal outcome. Legislation on Northern Irish power-sharing must be debated by September 9th, and a cross-party group of MPs will use amendments to force a debate on frustrating or preventing a No Deal Brexit.
13th September: Conference Recess
Two weeks after having two months out, Parliament will again be in recess for party conferences. But there is a debate about whether recess will be cut, or at least shortened, with only ministers going to give key speeches.
Either way, party conferences are where battle lines are drawn, and platforms reinforced. Will Conservatives outline No Deal? Will Labour back a second vote? Only cringeworthy jokes are certain.
Labour Conference: 21/09-25/09; Conservative Conference: 29/09-2/10
(After) October 4th: Parliament Returns
Following conference, MPs will be back again, but we will have a much better understanding of the political landscape. A no confidence vote in Johnson will certainly trigger an election, but this will likely trigger the “nuclear option”, which the Government pursues No Deal in the absence of a functioning Parliament able to stop it… Very democratic.
We are also expecting an emergency budget in either of these Parliamentary sessions, in which new Chancellor, Sajid Javid, will announce the Government's Brexit spending plans and projects for the next year.
17th-18th October: EU Summit
The final planned meeting between the UK and EU leaders, in Finland. Johnson remains committed to getting a new deal from the EU, specifically on changing the backstop so that the UK doesn’t enter a customs union which is a deep redline of the EU.
Yet, if one side is to “blink”, this is the time. Only two weeks before Brexit, any concessions or doubling down will be done here- will Johnson’s No Deal bluff be called, or will the EU cave under pressure? Remember the EU stood firm for 5 months in the build up to March 29th….
31st October: Brexit Date
Johnson has been steadfast in his “no ifs no buts” line that the UK will leave the European Union on October 31st. However, if there’s anything we know about Johnson, he may say one thing while doing exactly the opposite.
The route to October 31st is uncertain, with various twists expected on the way. The Chamber will focus on opposing a No Deal scenario that will severely damage the regional economy and providing updates on the everchanging lansdscape.
However, members need to be as prepared as possible for October 31st, and our International Trade Team are advising all business to consider these five steps to get Brexit ready: https://www.neechamber.co.uk/preparing-for-brexit/brexit-knowledge-hub/five-steps-to-get-brexit-ready
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