Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.9 - Protocol on Northern Ireland

This post looks at the Protocol for Northern Ireland which is in the draft withdrawal agreement.  The post also completes my overview of the draft agreement.  Links to all previous posts are at the end of this post.

The Protocol is at pages 302 to 475 of the agreement.  It contains 21 Articles and 10 Annexes.

The EU has issued an explainer specific to the Northern Ireland protocol - HERE.  It is in the form of Questions and Answers and is a clear exposition of the situation.  For convenience, I have reproduced it in this post.  The UK government has also issued an Explainer of the draft agreement - HERE - together with a shorter explainer related to Article 6 to 8 in the Protocol.

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.8 - Protocol on the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus

The United Kingdom operates two "sovereign bases" in Cyprus - Akrotiri and Dhekelia.   Earlier this year, a Parliamentary Select Committee noted - "The situation on Cyprus is further complicated by the existence of two Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) on the island, remnants of its pre-1960 status as a UK Crown Colony. The Bases are British Overseas Territories administered by the Ministry of Defence, which are not part of the European Union.  Dhekelia — also known as the Eastern Sovereign Base Area or ESBA — straddles the Green Line and contains two crossing points for movements of goods and people between the two parts of Cyprus."

Whilst the bases

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.7 - Protocol on Gibraltar

Strategic importance:

Gibraltar has always been of strategic importance and that was recently affirmed in a statement by the Armed Forces Minister - Ministry of Defence 19 November

The signing of the Armed Forces (Gibraltar) Act marks an important milestone for both the UK and Gibraltar and will ensure the relationship between Service Police on The Rock and the Royal Gibraltar Police to go from strength to strength.  Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said:

Monday, 19 November 2018

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.6 - Parts Three (Separation) + Part Five (Financial)

The Prime Minister addressed the Confederation of British Industry  - her speech may be read HERE.  Mrs May said - "We now have an intense week of negotiations ahead of us in the run-up to the special European Council on Sunday.  During that time I expect us to hammer out the full and final details of the framework that will underpin our future relationship and I am confident that we can strike a deal at the council that I can take back to the House of Commons."

The EU General Affairs Council discussed the situation on 19 November - see HERE.  This communique notes - "On Sunday 25 November 2018, EU27 leaders are expected to endorse the Brexit withdrawal agreement and to approve the political declaration on future EU-UK relations."  It is not fully clear what will happen at the Council meeting.  It may be that Council will consider the agreement and then seek the view of the European Parliament.

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.5 - Part 2 (Citizens' Rights) - November 2018

This post considers the draft withdrawal agreement Part Two (Citizens' Rights).  The change in UK-EU relationship from full member to non-member was always bound to be a complex business.  After all, there have been 46 years of deep integration with numerous changes along the way.  In consequence, the provisions in Parts Two of the draft withdrawal agreement are complex and particularly detailed with numerous references to relevant EU legislation.  In this post I have tried to set out the main features.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.4 - CJEU role, Joint Committee, Dispute settlement

This post is an overview of Part Six (Institutional and Final Provisions) of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as agreed at negotiators' level on 14 November 2018

Part Six covers pages 268-300 and is divided into four Titles: I - General Interpretation and Application - Articles 158-163; II - Institutional Provisions - Articles 164-166; III - Dispute Settlement - Articles 167-181; IV - Final Provisions - Articles 182-185.

The Withdrawal Agreement

Friday, 16 November 2018

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.3 - Transition

This post is an overview of Part Four (Transition) of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as agreed at negotiators' level on 14 November 2018

Transition is addressed in Article 126 to 132 of the draft - at pages 196-209.

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.2 - Preamble and Common Provisions

The Draft Withdrawal Agreement is worthy of analysis even though, at the time of writing, it is far from certain whether it will ever be approved by the UK Parliament.  It is important that the agreement is properly understood even if, ultimately, it is rejected.

On Thursday 15 November it received a hostile reception in the House of Commons, there were Ministerial resignations.  This morning it appears that Conservative MPs are preparing for a vote of confidence in Mrs May as Party Leader despite the point that changing the Prime Minister as the UK leaves the EU would carry serious risks.

On Friday 16 November, the Prime Minister appointed Mr Stephen Barclay MP as Secretary of State for Exiting the EU.  Mr Michael Gove MP rejected an invitation to take on the role - BBC News 16 November.

At a Press Conference

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - November 2018 - No.1

"When you strip away the detail, the choice before us is clear. This deal which delivers on the vote of the referendum, which brings back control of our money, laws and borders; ends free movement; protects jobs, security and our union; or leave with no deal; or no Brexit at all" - Theresa May, Downing Street, 14 November 2018.

The proposed Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration were both published on Wednesday 14 November - BBC News 15 November.  Both documents were "collectively agreed" by the Cabinet following a lengthy meeting held during the afternoon and evening.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister made this brief statement.  A fuller statement was made in Parliament during the morning of 15 November and it may be read HERE.  The full debate is available via Hansard.

It is a requirement of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 section 13 that the House of Commons must approve both documents when they are finalised.

What will happen in the existing fragile political atmosphere is by no means clear. This morning

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

News of a Withdrawal Agreement ~ Humble Address (Number 2)

As I write there is breaking news that the UK government and the EU have reached an agreed text for a Withdrawal Agreement - BBC News 13 November.  I would expect this to be a lengthy document and hope to look at it in detail once it is published.  The agreement  will have to address numerous areas and it may be that the text is not 100% "set in stone."  For instance, technical amendments might yet be made.

The Cabinet is to meet on Wednesday 14 November to consider the agreement.  Cabinet Ministers have received individual briefings about the agreement but they can hardly have fully read it and analysed its contents.  If the Cabinet accept the agreement then it will go forward for approval by the House of Commons.  The Opposition wishes to be able to move amendments to any motion for approval of the agreement.

It is not clear what steps will be taken,

Monday, 12 November 2018

Brexit ~ Is a withdrawal agreement imminent?

Since the EU Council met in Brussels on 17-18 October there has been little hard news as to whether the negotiations will result in a Withdrawal Agreement.

According to one report (BBC 12 November) there may be an announcement by Wednesday 14 November so that an agreement can be signed off at the EU Council before the end of November.  A meeting would be convened if it is required.

The report notes -

Sunday, 11 November 2018

A century ago ~ the Armistice

100 years ago today, at 5am in the Forest of Compi├Ęgne to the north of Paris, the Armistice was signed which brought an end to hostilities from 11 am.  See the terms of the Armistice.

From the outbreak of war in 1914 until the armistice in 1918 over 17 million people lost their lives.  It was not until 28 June 1919 that a Peace Treaty was signed at Versailles and the Treaty took effect from 10 January 1920 - Treaty of Versailles.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

National Crime Agency (NCA)

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is undertaking an investigation into Better for the Country Ltd, Leave.EU, Arron Banks, Elizabeth Bilney and others - previous post and also see - Statement Electoral Commission 1 November 2018 and the NCA statement.  The investigation is into suspected criminal offences committed during the EU referendum.  But what is the NCA and how does it relate to other law enforcement bodies in the UK.

England has 38 Police Forces, Wales has 4, Scotland has Police Scotland and Northern Ireland has the Police Service of Northern Ireland - Police Forces.  In addition there are 4 National special police forces - British Transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Ministry of Defence Police and a National Police Air Service.

Those Forces

Friday, 2 November 2018

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Northern Ireland ~ talking points

This post looks at some of the issues in Northern Ireland.  The post-Brexit border question remains unresolved.  Considerable concern exists over the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland executive and Assembly both of which are key elements in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.  The post also looks at some criminal justice questions including the continuation of non jury trial in some situations.

Brexit and the border:

The question of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland continues to be unresolved in Brexit negotiations.  Post-Brexit there will be a land border between Northern Ireland (non-EU) and Ireland (EU member State).  It has been argued that any return of a "hard border" will damage the Good Friday Agreement peace process and that sectarian violence could return - Business Insider UK - 2 April 2018.  How this issue will be resolved - if at all - remains to be seen but a return to a controlled border will be inevitable in the event that the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place.

Democratic institutions:

Monday, 29 October 2018

Religious intolerance ~ ES v Austria

Ireland has held a referendum in which the majority voted to remove the offence of Blasphemy from their law - The Observer 27 October 2018.  The referendum saw 64.85% vote yes to remove the offence of blasphemy, with 35.15% in favour of retaining it.  A total of 951,650 people voted for the change, with 515,808 opposing the move. The decision on a turnout of 43.79%, was the latest reflection of seismic social and political changes in Ireland, which the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has described as a “quiet revolution”.

In 1985 the Law Commission for England and Wales recommended the abolition (without replacement) of the common law criminal offences of Blasphemy and Blasphemous Libel - see Offences against Religion and Public Worship

Saturday, 27 October 2018

R v Gordon Park ~ The "Lady in the Lake" murder

Coniston Water
During the dry summer of 1976  Carol Ann Park, the wife of Gordon Park, went missing.

In August 1997, a body was discovered by divers in Lake Coniston.  Using dental records, the body was identified as Carol Park.  She had suffered a brutal death.  Her body was packaged carefully inside two bin-liners, a canvas bag and a large holdall and weighted down.

Gordon Park was arrested and charged with the murder.  He was remanded in custody but released when the charge was discontinued in January 1998 due to there being insufficient for a realistic prospect of conviction.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Press freedom, Confidentiality, Parliamentary Privilege

On 23 October, the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) imposed an INTERIM injunction in favour of unnamed appellants (referred to as ABC) to prevent The Telegraph publishing what they claimed to be confidential information about them which had been disclosed in breach of confidence - ABC and others v Telegraph Media Group Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ - Sir Thomas Etherton MR, Underhill and Henderson LJJ.

The appellants are two companies in the same group and a senior executive of that group.

Employees of companies in the group alleged discreditable conduct on the part of that senior executive.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Yaxley-Lennon retrial / Case now referred to Attorney-General + Convictions at Leeds

On Tuesday 23 October, Mr Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka "Tommy Robinson") attended at the Central Criminal Court ("the Old Bailey") for his trial for contempt of court - see The Guardian 16 October and Daily Mail 21 October.  The trial was listed before the Recorder of London, His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC.

This new trial was ordered by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) on 18 July 2018 when Mr Robinson's  conviction at Leeds Crown Court for contempt was quashed - previous post 1st August 2018 and also see previous posts 1 June 2018 and 5 July 2018.  By the date of the Court of Appeal hearing on 18 July, Mr Robinson had been in prison from 25 May - some 55 days.

Friday, 19 October 2018

EU Council meeting 17-18 October ~ (with updates)

The European Council met in Brussels on 17-18 October 2018.

The Mains Results of the meeting are set out HERE.  See the short video in which Donald Tusk (EU Council President) states that the Council would consider extending the transition period if the UK government thought that would be helpful.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for 13-14 December 2018 and will be held in Brussels.

Regarding Brexit, leaders declared their readiness to convene a European Council, if and when the Union negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations.  

Politico - EU Council

Update 21 October:

The Guardian - March in London for a "People's Vote" and Secretary of State for Exiting the EU argues that the EU should scrap the "backstop" if the transition period is extended beyond 31 December 2020 - BBC News 21 October but that, of course, leaves the possibility of a hard border across Ireland if an extended implementation period were to end without any further agreement in place

Update 22 October:

Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons regarding the EU Council.