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Background

 

Conservative Party Manifesto and Referendum Result

Prior to the May 2015 general election, the Conservative Party manifesto committed to a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU by the end of 2017. Having won a majority at the election, the Conservative Party delivered this commitment by holding the referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016.

The referendum result was a narrow majority in favour of leaving the EU. CIEEM issued a statement immediately after the result was announced, and a follow up statement a week later.

 

Article 50 and Plan for Britain

The Supreme Court judgement of 24 January 2017 determined that the Prime Minister had to seek Parliamentary approval (but not from the devolved administrations) to trigger Article 50. Parliament voted in favour of triggering Article 50 on 1 February 2017.

Following the vote to trigger Article 50, the UK Government published its Brexit White Paper on 2 February 2017. Read more.

Scotland and Wales have also published White Papers on Brexit.

On 13 March 2017 Parliament passed the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017, with Royal Assent given on 16 March 2017. The Bill confered power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50, the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

On 16 March 2017 the UK Government launched the Plan for Britain (and Northern Ireland) website, which outlines how the Government intends to "build a stronger, fairer Britain as we leave the European Union". The website also includes the Government’s 12 objectives for the negotiations ahead. At the time of its launch there is no mention whatsoever of the environment.

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 with a letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk on 29 March 2017. Exit negotiations are now taking place to agree on the UK's new relationship with the EU. Unless the two-year negotiation period is extended by mutual consent, the UK will leave the EU by the end of March 2019.

On 29 March 2017 the European Parliament published a motion for a resolution to wind up the debate on negotiations with the UK following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the EU. The motion states “that any future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom is conditional on the United Kingdom’s continued adherence to the standards provided by the Union’s legislation and policies, in, among others, the fields of the environment, climate change, the fight against tax evasion and avoidance, fair competition, trade and social policy.”

 

EU Withdrawal Act

On 30 March 2017 the UK Government published Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. This is the Government’s Great Repeal Bill White Paper, which sets out the Government’s proposals for ensuring a functioning statute book once the UK has left the EU. Read more.

The UK government published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on 13 July 2017. Also known as the Repeal Bill, CIEEM has looked at the potential concerns for the environmental sector. Read more.

CIEEM has, as part of the Environmental Policy Forum group, written jointly to the UK government regarding our concerns with the Repeal Bill. Read more.

The Withdrawal Bill recieved Royal Assent on 26 June 2018 and was subsequently written into law as the Withdrawal Act. The Act was finalised after a series of amendments in the House of Lords which led to Parliamentary 'ping-pong'. View the debates at all stages of the Act's development, and the final version on the Parliament website.

A useful overview of issues and documents relating to the Withdrawal Act can be found on the Public Law For Everyone website.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have published their own continuity bills as contingencies for the EU Withdrawal Bill failing.

 

UK General Election 2017

The snap general election called by Prime Minister Theresa May for 8 June 2017 added another layer of uncertainty to Brexit. 

In response to the Prime Minister calling the general election, CIEEM wrote to all of the main political parties to call on them to include in their election manifestos a commitment to maintaining, or better yet enhancing, the protection of the natural environment following the UK leaving the EU. Following this we analysed each of the published manifestos for their environmental content and credentials.

After the election the CIEEM President wrote about the uncertainty created by the result. We have also drafted an overview of the environmental content of the Queen's speech.

Michael Gove has been appointed as the new Environment Secretary and gave his first keynote speech on 21 July 2017.

 

Implications for Ecology and Environmental Management

Most of the UK's wildlife and environmental legislation is based on EU legislation and there is currently no certainty as to how these will be replaced. Changes to the legislation under which most of the UK ecology and nature conservation profession works will have potentially profound and serious implications for CIEEM members and the sector.

CIEEM is working to more fully understand the potential consequences of leaving the EU and to have as much positive influence on the changes to legislation in relation to the natural environment. This will of course depend on the nature of the UK's new relationship with the EU.

We will keep this webpage and members updated on developments.

 

Other Considerations

Members and others may also be interested in the Business Continuity Institute's papers on Brexit, entitled Horizon scanning post-Brexit: What should businesses prepare for? and Brexit: Analysing the impact of change.

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