With the 31st October Brexit deadline looming, and as apt of Halloween season, many are wondering whether it will bring with it a trick or a treat. With the UK’s exit from the EU still masked in uncertainty, businesses still, at this unnerving time, with minimal time to go, have little clarity on how to prepare their business for the future.
The UK Parliament has largely been celebrating as they pushed through a domestic (UK-only) law requiring the Prime Minister to request the EU to extend the UK’s membership of the EU until 31 January 2020. Yet, a key point is largely going missed – the UK’s EU membership extension cannot be decided by domestic law – it will only be decided by EU law (and the relevant treaties). This is because the UK has been a member of the EU for many years and the agreement for the UK to initially join and remain in the EU is recorded in (and the terms set out in) the EU treaties.
Whilst the European Council will meet on 17th and 18th October 2019, such unanimous approval to a further extension for the UK until 31st January 2020 is very much up in the air. Many EU members have made it clear there will be no further negotiations and the horror show of the prorogation has taken up much time that the Prime Minister could have spent negotiating a deal or extension with the EU members ahead of the European Council meeting.
There is still no certainty on if, when, or how the UK will leave the EU and so all businesses must have, or be forming, strategic plans and taking action to cope with a hard Brexit taking place on 31 October 2019. So, let’s hope the government does not provide us with any ghoulish surprises!
For more information and guidance on Brexit, please visit our newly published Brexit Preparations page.