The UK parliament has reconvened after its summer recess, but negotiations between representatives of the EU and the UK have been taking place with the aim of settling the financial obligations that the UK owes the bloc; the rights of EU citizens in the UK post Brexit and those of their counterparts living in EU states; and the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which will become an external EU border after Brexit.
It is true to say that little substantive (mutually agreed) progress has been made on these issues. The EU is insistent that these matters are resolved before any post Brexit EU-UK trade discussions can start. Having accepted this position initially, David Davis, the Secretary of State for Leaving the EU, has tried to get the trade relationship discussed in parallel. It seems unlikely that the EU negotiating team will budge from their script and equally that they will report to the Council of Europe that insufficient progress has been made in these areas when it meets next month. It is likely that the next round of talks will be postponed until December. The clock keeps ticking.
The Labour Party has come out in favour of retaining membership of both the single market and the customs union during any post Brexit transitional agreement and is keeping open the option that this could continue in perpetuity. It seems to escape British politicians that a transitional arrangement, let alone its structural details, is outside their gift.
Debate has begun on a bill to repeal the 1972 Communities act which enabled UK membership of the EEC and derogation of EU law into British law. The idea is that the bill would transfer all relevant statutes into British law, post Brexit, to avoid a legal cliff edge. However, the executive would be granted unprecedented powers to change any laws within the bill’s remit via secondary legislation and without further scrutiny by parliament. The bill is likely to face calls for amendments and opposition parties have promised to vote against it as currently drafted. Given that the government only has a small working majority thanks to a “supply and confidence” deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, it is uncertain if the bill will pass.
Drafts of position papers related to the Brexit process and post Brexit immigration policy have been published or leaked and have come in for severe criticism from various quarters, but more of that another time. The Euro is currently trading at 91.56 pence Sterling; the day before the vote it was at 76.34p.