UK & other courts
Following competition with the Indian candidate, Dalveer Bhandari, the British judge who had sought to be re-elected to the ICJ, Sir Christopher Greenwwod, withdrew, with the result that the UK will not be represented at the international court for the first time since the court was set up following WWII.
UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU
David Davis is reportedly considering resigning following Michael Gove and Boris Johnson’s Brexit letter, about which he was kept in the dark and which set out the pair’s vision for Brexit and contained veiled criticisms of colleagues’ approach.
The National Audit Office has published a briefing describing how the centre of Government is overseeing and taking forward implementation of the UK’s exit from the EU, focusing on the coordination role of DEXEU. Meanwhile the UCL European Institute has published a paper on the legal and political considerations of the Brexit transitional arrangements.
The week began with reports that the Cabinet was willing to support Theresa May to increase the UK’s Brexit bill offer. This is to be increased to £40bn to break the deadlock, though the increase will be contingent on an acceptable final deal. However, senior Tory Brexiteers have demanded that Theresa May exploit Angela Merkel’s political weakness and suspend plans to offer billions of pounds more to the EU, though Politico has argued that Merkel’s position will make Brexit harder. According to the Financial Times, the UK and EU are aiming to strike the Brexit divorce deal within three weeks, with negotiators seeking to overcome the toughest unresolved issues on financial settlement and Northern Ireland.
Despite the increase in May’s Brexit bill offer, the Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney has warned that Dublin is still prepared to veto Brexit trade talks unless the UK gives written guarantees that there will be no return to a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. This has led DUP leader, Arlene Foster, to accuse the Irish government of hijacking the Brexit negotiations to promote a united Ireland.
David Davis has stated that, whilst it is not probable or the intention, it is possible that the UK will leave the EU without a deal.
Former AG Dominic Grieve has accused a number of Tory MPs of becoming unhinged over the Brexit withdrawal process, claiming there was an attempt to ‘bully into silence’ Remain-supporting Tories who were speaking out against the Government.
Brussels and Dublin have increased the pressure on the British Government, stating it must offer alternatives to avoid imposing a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, in a speech to the Centre for European Reform on the future of the EU, Michel Barnier, underlined the desire for the EU27 to seek a ‘close relationship with the UK’ once Brexit happens, stating that the EU has no desire to punish.
The European Commission has welcomed the decision of the EU27 to relocate the EMA and the EBA to Amsterdam and Paris respectively. The Commission has also stated that the UK will not be able to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023 and thus has told five British cities that their bids must be withdrawn.
The near contempt felt by European leaders at the British Government’s management of the Brexit negotiations, and their concerns over the “unimpressive” and “surprising” behaviour of Boris Johnson and David Davis, have been revealed by a confidential report drawn up by the Irish government.