The House of Lords committee on Brexit – aka British Independence from the European Union – yesterday published its Brexit Report – ‘Deal or No Deal’ – outlining the potential impact on the UK of leaving the EU without a deal and examining the feasibility of a transition period immediately post-Brexit.
The report states that ‘no deal’ would not only be economically damaging, but would bring an abrupt end to cooperation between the UK and EU on key issues and that it would also necessitate the imposition of controls at the Irish land border.
- The Committee agrees with the Government that concluding all aspects of the negotiations before March 2019 would be the best outcome, but notes that the overwhelming weight of evidence suggests that this will be impossible.
- The Committee concludes that enshrining the Article 50 deadline of 29 March 2019 in domestic law would ‘not be in the national interest’.
- The Committee questions whether a legally binding transition deal can be reached in time to prevent damage to the UK economy.
- The Committee notes that negotiations on the future relationship could last several years, and that a ‘standstill’ transition period may therefore be needed to buy time for negotiations to continue beyond March 2019.
- The Committee notes that the only secure legal basis for transition may be to use one of the two options available under Article 50, either to extend UK membership of the EU for a time limited period, or to set a date later than March 2019 for withdrawal to take effect.
Meanwhile, the SNP’s Foreign Affairs and Europe spokesman in the Westminster parliament has warned that the UK government is edging ever closer towards a ‘Brexit power grab’ from Scotland after the UK government voted down an amendment which would have allowed Scot-Govt ministers to amend EU law which directly applies to them.
The SNP brought forward an amendment which expressed concern from the devolved administrations that if only UK ministers have the ability to make fixes in EU regulations, then the UK government could subsume powers coming back from Brussels, and act as regulator for the whole of the UK in relation to an area of devolved policy – for example environmental standards.
Stephen Gethins MP said: “The SNP amendment – backed by MPs across the House – sought to protect the ability of devolved administrations to make important amends and fixes to EU regulations and laws, such as environmental standards, that would directly impact them.
“Instead, this was voted down by a Tory government that is edging ever closer towards its power grab from the devolved administrations.
“Even the Scottish Conservatives have said they want the Bill changed. However instead of bringing forward amendments like MPs from every other party, the Scottish Conservatives have sat on their hands.
“Once again, when the time came to stand up for Scotland, the Scottish Conservatives were nowhere in sight. Instead, they marched through the voting lobby to ensure that powers from Brussels stop at the doors of Westminster, rather than at Holyrood and their constituencies.
Indeed, one of the major ‘take-aways’ from the seminal Renewables After Brexit conference last week in Dundee is that the biggest threat to Scottish renewables and climate-change progress may come from the post-Brexit ‘power grab’ of Brussels powers which should be devolved to Holyrood rather than Westminster.
The Scot-Govt and the Scottish Renewables trade association were asked to both participate and/or comment on the above issues.
Neither replied to the invitation from Scottish Energy News.
But Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, later commented: ““What is going to become evident, when people realise the landing point for Brexit is a lot more unpleasant than many Leave voters realised
“In certainly industries it’s hard to think why anyone would support a Brexit position because I can’t really see any advantages at all. There is no good Brexit – there is only a very harmful one and one that is moderately less harmful.”