So said Sir David Edward KCMG, QC, PC, FRSE, Former Judge of the Court of Justice of the European Union, in giving evidence to the European Union Committee of the House of Lords. The Committee produced a little publicised report on Brexit on 4 May 2016 entitled “The process of withdrawing from the European Union”. (HL Paper 138) in which the Committee took evidence not only from Sir David Edward, but also from Professor Derrick Wyatt QC, Emeritus Professor of Law, Oxford University. I am surprised it has received so little publicity as it provides an insight into the enormity of the legal complexities involved in dis-engaging our domestic legislation from the volume of EU legislation that has one way or another become our own legislation over the last 40 odd years the UK has been a member of the EU.
I say that I am surprised it has received so little publicity, but I probably shouldn’t be, as the current thrust of government policy seems to be that there is a plan for Brexit and in due course we will all know about it. This however seems to run contrary to the message from our new Prime Minister as she tours the major capitals of the EU and holds one to one talks with their respective heads of state. As yet, we have no idea when Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will be triggered – nor indeed are we sure who can trigger it as there are cases before the High Court at present, arguing that Parliament must exercise the trigger, not the Prime Minister. Does the Government have the requisite majority in Parliament to get the trigger through if push comes to shove? An awful lot of issue just to get us off the starting block seems still to be in the air.
This last week, we heard that the head of Renault – Nissan, Carlos Gohsn has stated there will be no further investment decisions in the Sunderland Plant until there is a clear line on what Brexit will mean for the car manufacturer which exports its vehicles into the EU from there. The plant employs some 7000 workers in Sunderland and is credited with having reduced unemployment in the North East by two-thirds since it went into production. A further 27,000 jobs are directly related in terms of the supply chain to that plant. The region voted 82,000 to 52,000 for Brexit.
I have failed to mention the fact that there are claims of misconduct in public office against those who alleged an extra £350m would be available for the NHS during the referendum debate. Plus the appeal being made to the United Nations by those 700,000 expatriates living in the EU who were denied the opportunity to vote in the referendum.
I wasn’t going to mention the 57% increase in hate crimes since the Brexit vote.
It is at least encouraging to see the Bank of England stepping in this last week to bolster confidence in the economy; we are going to need it. Personally I seem to have spent a lot of time speaking to journalists both in Europe and the USA about Brexit, but not saying an awful lot other then we need to wait and see. I do hope our new Secretary of State for Brexit – David Davis has read the House of Lords Report – if not – he should and quickly.
Here’s an interesting set of facts – it took Greenland 2 years to negotiate its separation from Denmark, then an EU member – population of Greenland 55,000 (UK currently 63 million). Canada, which has just negotiated a new trade deal with the EU, took 7 years to reach an agreement. Canada has some 350 full time trade negotiators working on worldwide trade negotiations, population of Canada about 36 million. I believe the former Minister for overseeing possible scenarios for Brexit in the Cameron Government, was asked how many full time experienced trade negotiators the UK had available post-Brexit. The answer was none as they were all employed in Brussels. The Indians, Chinese and Americans must be looking forward with eager anticipation to future negotiations with us.
Any lawyer thinking of a career change could do worse than take a look at jobs currently being advertised by No 9 Downing Street (the new Brexit office).
On a more positive note, the Tourism Alliance, of which RDO is a member, has already moved into action on preparing submissions to the Government on Brexit and RDO is also talking to AIPP (the Association of International Property Professionals about possible co-operation on Brexit submissions).
Whilst Brexit has dominated everything for the last few weeks, we have RDO7 kicking off on 20th September at the Chelsea Bridge Pestana Hotel. As previously, there is a great line-up of speakers designed to be thought provoking and informative. If you have not already booked your place then you need to do so – if only to avoid the mention of Brexit (hopefully) for a couple of days.