Wednesday 09 January 2019
As the UK Parliament this week resumes debate - and next week is due to have the 'meaningful vote' on - the UK's EU Withdrawal Agreement and the accompanying Political Declaration on the future partnership, the States of Guernsey is continuing to prepare its response.
As the President of the Policy & Resources Committee emphasised directly to the UK Prime Minister in September 2018, before the draft agreement was concluded, it is in Guernsey's interests for the UK to have an orderly exit from the EU. However, the States of Guernsey has a duty as a responsible government to prepare for all eventualities, including a no deal Brexit, until there is certainty around the outcome of the wider UK-EU position. The Bailiwick's preparations are aligned with the UK's preparations wherever possible and the States continues to work closely with the UK Government across a range of departments on these issues. Guernsey's plans are to mitigate the risks for the island that might be associated with Brexit - particularly in the case of a no deal - and to protect the interests of residents and businesses.
The States of Guernsey has been working with the UK Government to carry extensive preparations for all scenarios, including no deal, over the last two years. The communication with businesses and the wider public will increase as the UK's exit from the EU approaches. More information will be provided in due course should a no-deal Brexit become a more likely outcome. Until that time it is not appropriate to provide further details, other than to confirm that work is continuing to ensure the security of supply of foods, medicines and medical supplies, fuels and chemicals. It is recommended that businesses make their own plans. For example, in December the Committee forHome Affairs issued guidance for traders to assist those businesses that trade in goods and that will be effected by the end of our Protocol 3 relationship with the EU.
Given the short time left before the UK's scheduled withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019, the Policy & Resources Committee is advising States Members and the public now of the proposed next steps for Guernsey in regard to Brexit.
Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the UK Government's top priority. The House of Commons' decision on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the framework for a future partnership is set to take place on Tuesday 15 January 2019 (the 'meaningful vote'). Guernsey, along with the rest of Europe, will be closely monitoring that debate and vote.
If the Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration are accepted by the House of Commons (a vote for a 'deal') on 15 January, then the Policy & Resources Committee intends to publish a policy letter on Guernsey's position in response to these agreements, as soon as possible thereafter. It will be seeking the permission of the Presiding Officer for that policy letter to be considered by the States of Deliberation at the States Meeting of 30 January.
In the event that the Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration are not accepted by the House of Commons (a potential 'no deal' scenario) on 15 January, then the Policy & Resources Committee intends instead to make a statement at that States Meeting of 30 January. It will be liaising closely with the UK Government throughout this time. This approach will enable the Committee to take all the latest developments into account, before updating the States, as the situation will continue to unfold after the date of the meaningful vote.
This approach demonstrates that whilst we hope for an orderly exit by the UK we have planned and are ready to respond to all eventualities. As well as this planned engagement through the States, we will continue to engage with industry whether it be directly, through the industry bodies, or through the Committee's Brexit Group in order to help business prepare for the UK's exit from the EU. This is a continuation of the approach the States has taken since the UK decided to leave the EU.