Brexit image
Photo : Nerthuz

Alison Ryan, London Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board

Key events this week:

Theresa May has told senior Tories she will make a fourth attempt to break the Westminster deadlock on Brexit before the European elections take place on May 23. Party whips have warned Number 10 that the Withdrawal bill will be defeated unless May secures a deal with Jeremy Corbyn. This, however, is looking increasingly unlikely. Talks on Tuesday and Wednesday ended between the two parties without any firm conclusion. Officials on both sides said the negotiations could soon collapse.

Downing Street has set August 1 as its latest target date for the UK’s exit day. Under an agreement with the EU, Brexit day would take place on the first day of the month after Brexit is ratified. If May intends on passing a deal before MEPs tale their seats on July 1 and given that UK parliament breaks for summer recess in mid-July, August 1 the next possible target exit date.

Theresa May has admitted that the UK will definitely be taking part in the European Parliament elections. May’s spokesman said the prime minister “deeply regretted” that Britain would take part in the elections on May 23, sending 73 MEPs to the European Parliament in polls that will cost about £150m to organise. However, number 10 is still clinging to the hope that it can secure a deal with Labour before British MEPs would have to take their seats on July 1.

The Conservative Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all formerly launched their European elections campaigns on Thursday. Labour launched their campaign in Medway, Kent, while the Liberal Democrats, whose party slogan is ‘Bollocks to Brexit’, launched their campaign in Shoreditch. The Conservative party did not have a lunch event. Some sources in CCHQ (the Conservative Party headquarters) think that the Tory party could come in behind the Brexit Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and even the Greens or Change UK, with as little as 10% of the vote.

Implications for Irish food & drink companies:

The UK will be partaking in the European Parliament elections on Thursday, May 23. Whether or not the government will manage to get the Withdrawal Agreement passed before MEPs have to take their seats before July 1 is still unknown. Otherwise, October 31 will be the Brexit deadline. Therefore, it is crucial that Irish companies continue to prepare for all Brexit possibilities, including a no-deal Brexit. Bord Bia’s support programmes can be found here.

Looking ahead:

  • May has said the government will have a fourth vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the next two weeks.
  • European Parliament elections will take place on May 23.
  • European leaders will hold a symbolic meeting in June to review the UK’s progress.
  • Newly elected MEPs will be taking their seats on July 1.
  • October 31 is the current Brexit deadline.