Brexit update
Pwyllgor Materion Allanol a Deddfwriaeth Ycwhanegol | 28 Tachwedd 2016
 External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee | 28 November 2016




Research Briefing:

1.       Introduction

This paper provides an update on the most recent developments on Brexit of relevance to Wales. It includes sections on the work in the Assembly and Welsh Government; EU-level; UK-level; and Scotland and Ireland. The period covered is 27 October to 10 November, although reference is made to later events where information is available at time of final drafting.

2.       Developments in Wales

National Assembly for Wales

External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee

The External Affairs and Additional Legislation (EAAL) Committee is the lead Committee in the Assembly for co-ordinating the Brexit-related activities of Committees. The Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the Potential Implications of Leaving the EU in Wales.

The most recent sessions of the EEAL Committee inquiry are as follows:

§    14 November: Sessions with the Slovakian Ambassador and the Counsel General for Wales Mick Antoniw AM.

§    21 November: Sessions with Sir Emyr Jones Parry (on approaches to the negotiations) and with Professor Gerald Holtham (on trade and economy).

Regular updates on the work of the EAAL Committee are posted on the Assembly Blog: https://assemblyblog.wales/tag/european-union/.

Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee

This Committee’s call for evidence on the future of agricultural and rural development policies in Wales closed on 24 November. The Committee issued a statement on agriculture and rural development [pdf 132KB] on 9 November setting out initial observations from this inquiry, based on meetings with stakeholders, experts and scrutiny of the Cabinet Secretary Leslie Griffiths AM, which was debated in plenary.


A number of the other Assembly Committees are discussing possible inquiries into Brexit and as these firm up we will include details in this Brexit Update.

Plenary debates

§    On 16 November there was a plenary debate on Overseas Workers in the Welsh NHS.

Welsh Government

18 November: Wales’ Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, announced that a project to improve the skills and job prospects of young people is being extended into East Wales thanks to an additional £1million EU funding boost.

15 November: Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has welcomed €680,000 of European funding for Bridgend-based business Control 2K Ltd as part of a ground-breaking cross-border project.

12 November: European funding approved to make Colwyn Bay a must visit destination

11 November: Post-Brexit Wales will welcome overseas students and the Welsh Government will press the UK government to ensure they do not fall victim of plans to reduce immigration – message from First Minister Carwyn Jones’ speech at Bangor University.

9 November: New €9m EU project to expand life sciences sector in Wales and Ireland.

8 November: Wales’ Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, hosted ministers and senior officials from across the UK with responsibility for areas including agriculture, food, fisheries, animal and plant health.

3.       EU level developments

European Council

15 November: Conclusions of the 46th meeting of the European Economic Area Council.

On 17 November 2016 the European Council and the European Parliament reached agreement on the 2017 EU budget.

European Commission

On 16 November the Commission announced the European Semester Autumn Package: Working for a stronger and more inclusive economic recovery.

European Parliament

§    22 November: North Sea cod fisheries: MEPs end time-at-sea limits.

4.       UK level developments

Article 50 judgement

9 November: There was widespread media coverage of a speech The Supreme Court: Guardian of the Constitution?, given by Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, to law students in Malaysia where she made comments relating to the Article 50 case that the Supreme Court is due to hear in appeal in December. Lady Hale will be one of the sitting judges in this appeal case.

15 November: The Supreme Court responded to reactions to her speech.

18 November: The Supreme Court allowed the following to intervene in the case: The Lord Advocate, Scottish Government; The Counsel General for Wales, Welsh Government; The 'Expat Interveners', George Birnie and Others; The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. “The Attorney General for Northern Ireland has made a reference to the Court regarding devolution issues relating to that jurisdiction. Permission to intervene is therefore not necessary.”

The Welsh Government issued a statement on 18 November in response to this decision, and the Counsel General for Wales issued a more detailed statement on 21 November outlining the grounds for intervention in the case that he had submitted to the Supreme Court.

UK Government

On 9 November Prime Minister May congratulated Donald Trump on his election as the next US President, and spoke by telephone on 10 November.

9 November: Prime Minister Theresa May hosted a bilateral meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at 10 Downing Street.

14 November: At the Lord Mayor's Banquet, Prime Minister Theresa May laid out her plan for how Britain can lead in the transformed modern world.

15 November: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said “We'll probably have to leave the Customs Union, but it is a question that will be discussed.” – machine translation from interview with Hospodářské Noviny.

16 November: Prime Minister Theresa May met the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at 10 Downing Street.

18 November: The Prime Minister met President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande, Prime Minister Renzi and Prime Minister Rajoy in Berlin. Theresa May and Angela Merkel made statements.

21 November: Prime Minister Theresa May spoke at the CBI annual conference to set out her vision for UK business including a modern Industrial Strategy. The Prime Minister announced additional £2 billion government investment per year for research and development by the end of this Parliament.

22 November: The Minister for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said his meeting with the European Parliament’s EU Brexit negotiator, Following the meeting Guy Verhofstadt MEP said that both had agreed the negotiations should be concluded before the next European Parliament elections and that ‘the window for negotiations is more or less 14-15 months’.

23 November: The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his speech outlining the Autumn Statement. The statement was then debated.

EC-UK Forum

On 5 December the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee Chair David Rees will host a meeting of the EC-UK Forum in the Assembly. The EC-UK Forum is an informal meeting, held under Chatham House rules, of the Chairs of European (or equivalent) Committees in the House of Commons (European Scrutiny Committee; and the newly established Exiting the EU Committee), House of Lords (EU Select Committee), Scottish Parliament (Culture, Tourism, European and External Affairs Committee), and the Northern Ireland Assembly (Committee for the Executive Office). It is held twice annually on a rotating basis.

This will be the first EC-UK Forum meeting since the recent elections and since the EU Referendum vote, and will focus primarily on scrutiny of the Brexit process.

House of Commons

On 15 November there was an adjournment debate on Leaving the EU: NHS Funding.

On 23 November the Committee on Exiting the European Union heard from ‘think tanks’ on the UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from the EU.

The Foreign Affairs Committee is calling for written evidence on the implications for the UK if the two-year negotiating period mandated by Article 50 ends with no withdrawal agreement in place.

House of Lords

The House of Lords European Union Committee and its six Sub-Committees is undertaking a “co-ordinated series of inquiries into the key issues that will arise in the forthcoming negotiations on Brexit”.

On 15 November there was a debate on the government’s approach to the Single Market in the Brexit negotiations.

On 21 November there was a debate on Brexit and Medical Research and Innovation, particularly European Union scientists working in the UK.

On 23 November the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee took evidence on Brexit and the environment and climate change, and on 16 November with Dr Therese Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DEFRA and Dr Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, BEIS.

On 15 November the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee took evidence from Sir Julian King, Commissioner for the Security Union, European Commission.

5.       Scotland

Scottish Parliament

22 November: The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee took evidence on the potential impact of Brexit on migrant workers in the Scottish soft fruit industry.

On 17 November the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee took evidence on the implications of the European Union referendum for Scotland, focusing on the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area. Witness were from Norway and the EFTA secretariat.

On 15 November the Parliament debated the single market and trade and the European Union referendum.

Scottish Government

16 November: There was a summit discussing the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s cruise industry.

22 November: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon briefed EU Ambassadors on the Scottish Government’s ongoing work to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.

6.       Northern Ireland

On 21 November there was a debate on EU Funding for Agriculture and Brexit.

On 22 November there was a statement and questions on the (18 November) North/South Ministerial Council Plenary, and on its Agriculture part.

Northern Ireland Executive

16 November: Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir went to Brussels to make the case for continued cooperation with the European Union in the time ahead.

14 November: Fisheries Minister Michelle McIlveen attended the Agri-Fish Council meeting in Brussels and met the EU Fisheries Commissioner to promote the position of the Northern Ireland Fishing industry ahead of December’s discussions on next year’s fishing opportunities.

7.       Other reports published

House of Commons

§    Brexit: some legal, constitutional and financial unknowns

§    Legislating for Brexit: the Great Repeal Bill


§    International Relations Outside the European Union: Norway and Switzerland (Northern Ireland Assembly Research Service)

§    UK Economic Outlook after Brexit (Price Waterhouse Coopers)

§    Brexit, Article 50 and devolved legislative consent (Alan Tench)