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Grayling's Brexit Bulletin - 23 November 2018

23rd November 2018

The BREXIT Bulletin: They should have seen this coming...
So we finally have the Political Declaration that is to sit alongside the bindingWithdrawal Agreement.

Since the publication of the latter on 14 November, its inherent tensions from a UK perspective have been written large across traditional and social media, not to mention in pubs, coffee shops and working men’s clubs across the country.
The UK Government has been made to accept a ‘backstop’ solution to Northern Ireland that, in the rather likely event that no magical solution can be found outside of the Customs Union and Single Market to avoid a ‘hard’ border, the UK will be bound as a whole to a “single customs territory”, whilst Northern Ireland could end up diverging from a regulatory perspective from the mainland.
Such a situation, which in effect leaves the UK as a rule-taker, unable to pursue an independent trade policy and induced to voluntarily align with EU regulation, is a situation that fails to appeal across the Leave/Remain spectrum.

Crying foul, however, isn’t really an option. Casual engagement with the Brexit subject matter pointed to the above outlined contours of the deal, not just from the commencement of the negotiations, but as a result of the nature of the EU’s legal order.
Engagement of more than just a casual nature is expected of politicians. If they scrutinise issues properly, surely they would have identified the trade-offs and seen all this coming.
Perhaps the greatest example of this can be found in the UK Government’s intention to use the Political Declaration as a massive PR exercise to sell the Withdrawal Agreement. It is hard to see how the text satisfies this objective.
Brexiteers will no doubt be satisfied with the direction of travel towards a future relationship underpinned by a free trade agreement. However, it is equally clear that such a scenario does not point towards a relationship that avoids the ‘backstop’ from coming into operation. The intended direction of travel hardly matters if there is no likelihood of ever reaching the destination.
If the Prime Minister was relying on the Political Declaration to secure the House of Commons' approval for the Withdrawal Agreement, then it is virtually impossible to see how she will secure a majority.
With the EU-27 in no mood to renegotiate, it is the odds of a ‘no-deal’ or 'no Brexit at all' that have increased as a result of the recent flurry of Brexit activity.

If you have any suggestions about the Brexit Bulletin or want to find out more about a specific aspect of Brexit, please do let us know. Please visit the Grayling Brussels website, follow us on Twitter @TheEULobby, and don't forget to check out our Brexit Papers

If you'd like to subscribe to the Brexit Bulletin or Grayling's other intelligence and information newsletters, please click here

This week's content:
The view from Spain

Dates for your Diary 

Brexit Club with iBanFirst - focusing on financial services
29 November, Grayling Offices, from midday to 2pm
Please contact 

Panel discussion - European Competitiveness in a post-Brexit World
5 December, Grayling Offices, from midday to 2pm
Confirmed speakers include Sam Lowe of the Centre for European Reform, Tony Connelly, RTE, and Tim Durrant of the Institute for Government
Please contact 

Your Award Winning Brexit Team

On Wednesday we were delighted to be awarded with the Brexit-related campaign of the year at the prestigious Public Affairs Awards Europe in Brussels.

The name of our award is actually slightly misleading, as our entry focused on all our work for our clients on Brexit, the many campaigns, our network across Europe, our core team in Brussels and London, and our marketing activities - including our events, and of course, the Brexit Bulletin.

The Grayling Brexit team would like to thank everyone who continues to support us - hopefully you see the value in what we provide, and long may this continue (Brexit, after all, will be with us for a long while yet!)

Rob, Alex, and Emily

The view from Spain

Non plus ultra*
After months of talks focusing on the unsolvable Irish question, this week it is Gibraltar proving to be the stumbling block. The Spanish government has said that it will not support the Withdrawal Agreement or Political Declaration on the future relationship, unless the texts related to Gibraltar are clarified (article 184). They want it to be made crystal clear that negotiations on the future relationship between Gibraltar and the EU will be conducted separately to those between the EU and the UK, and that Spain would be given the final veto.
Whilst such a clause had supposedly been included in previous versions of the Political Declaration, it was taken out before finalisation, leading Marco Aguiriano, Spain’s secretary of state for the EU, to accuse the UK of ‘treachery’.

As a result, Spain has said they could delay negotiations by rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration at the Summit on Sunday. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted; if there are no changes, we will veto Brexit.
The Grayling View
Whilst Spain does not have the capacity to veto the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration at the Summit on Sunday on its own, should it vote against the agreement, this would send a strong political message and would leave the remaining EU-26 feeling uneasy. Given the importance of the unity of the EU-27, coupled with grumblings around fisheries issues, Spain may be able to gather some support on Sunday. Nevertheless, the impact would be felt more greatly in discussions further down the line on the future relationship and trade relations.  

*According to legend, the Pillars of Hercules (of which Gibraltar is one) were inscribed with the warning ‘Non Plus Ultra’ (Go no further!), signaling the end of the known world at the mouth of the Atlantic. Charles V of Spain dared his explorers, on the contrary to be bold and go further beyond (Plus Ultra!) which is now the motto of Spain. This latest clash on Gibraltar – as we step out into a Brexit unknown – is perhaps reflective of Spain’s daring in the European Council to keep pushing, and go ‘plus ultra’.

Dates for your diary

25 November 2018 - EU Summit to approve the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration
13-14 December 2018 - EU Summit
1 January 2019 - Romanian Presidency of the Council
29 March 2019 - UK expected to leave EU
31 December 2020 - Expected end of transition

Grayling Brexit Unit

Our Grayling Brexit Unit brings together the very best consultants from across the Grayling network and includes those who have direct experience of working alongside the leading political figures charged with negotiating Brexit in London and Brussels.

The Grayling Brexit Unit is here to support, guide and inform the success of your business and identify how the political dynamics will change as a result of Brexit in both London and Brussels. We are your Brexit experts.

Please contact Robert Francis Tel +32 2739 47 34 ( in our Brussels team or Jonathan Curtis ( in London for more information, and check out our brochure.

 #Brexit Papers 

Brexit Negotiating Documents
The 'Great Repeal Bill'
Brits working in the EU institutions
Article 50

Sir Julian King - The Last UK Commissioner
David Davis – UK Brexit Secretary.
Sir Keir Starmer – Shadow Brexit Secretary.
Sir Tim Barrow – UK Permanent Representative.
Michel Barnier – EU Chief Negotiator.
Sabine Weyand – Barnier’s Deputy.
Guy Verhofstadt – EP Brexit Lead
No-deal – Concrete impact

Grayling Team

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