We don’t owe the EU any money

We do not owe the EU any money as a Brexit divorce bill. That is the conclusion that Martin Howe QC, Chairman of Lawyers for Britain, and Charlie Elphicke MP have come to after an exhaustive analysis (click to download report) of the claims the EU Commission sent to the British Government in June. The Government would, therefore, be right to stand firm and not be blackmailed into a multi-billion pound divorce bill. Particularly as it transpires that the legal position is that the EU owes us €10 billion. Continue reading “We don’t owe the EU any money”

Brexit choices: the EU Customs Union and the Single Market?

by Martin Howe QC, 25th July 2017

Brexit is happening, but the big question now is: “What kind of Brexit?” Should we seek to stay in the EU’s Customs Union and/or its Single Market, as the Liberal Democrats, some Labour MPs and Scottish and Welsh Nationalists propose, or instead seek a wide and deep Free Trade Agreement as the Government and the Labour front bench propose? Continue reading “Brexit choices: the EU Customs Union and the Single Market?”

Rights of EU Citizens in the UK after Brexit

A fair settlement – or a privileged caste with superior rights enforced by a foreign court?

By Martin Howe QC, Francis Hoar and Dr Gunnar Beckfull paper.

An early and fair settlement of the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK, and of UK citizens resident in the EU27, has been a priority for the British government. When the European Council published its Brexit negotiating guidelines on 29 April 2017, it appeared that the EU27 shared that objective as well and that any discussions would be limited to matters of detail.

Unfortunately, the picture radically changed on 24 May 2017 when the EU Commission published a more detailed Working Paper. This introduced two major demands, absent from the European Council’s guidelines. First, it demanded that EU citizens should, in perpetuity, have “the same level of protection as that set out in Union law at the date of withdrawal”; and, secondly, that their rights in the UK should be overseen, interpreted and enforced after Brexit by the EU Commission and by the European Court of Justice at Luxembourg (ECJ).

We have published a detailed paper which explains why each of these demands is unacceptable. Continue reading “Rights of EU Citizens in the UK after Brexit”

Withdrawal – UK potential financial liabilities

The European Union’s ever expanding Brexit financial claims against the UK, now apparently northward of €100bn, have raised their head in the campaign. On 21 March 2017, the Prime Minister gave an interview to The Sunday Telegraph in which she insisted that the UK’s rights must be respected — including its claim to a share of the European Investment Bank —  as well as any obligations. David Davis gave an interview to The Sunday Times in which he was dismissive of the EU’s financial demands for €100bn or more and commented:  “I’m sufficiently poor to think that €1bn is a lot of money.” He also raised the possibility that the EU’s stance on this and other issues might lead to “no deal”.

We have scrutinised the EU’s Brexit financial claims as they are now being advanced under the European Council’s approved negotiating guidelines. Our new and updated Analysis of the UK’s potential financial liabilities looks at the legal arguments in depth. We have failed to find a credible legal argument either for a liability on the UK to contribute to the EU’s unfunded pension fund deficit, or for any liability to contribute to the EU’s ongoing programmes after Brexit day on 29 March 2019, with the possible exception of an obligation to carry on contributing overseas aid of €1.3bn up to the end of 2020 via the European Development Fund (EDF). But the EDF example is actually helpful to the wider argument that the UK has no ongoing liability at all to contribute to the EU budget, since the funding for the EDF is agreed via a quite different mechanism in which the individual Member States assume direct obligations to fund the programme outside the framework of the EU treaties. Continue reading “Withdrawal – UK potential financial liabilities”

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