Article Date: 26/04/2019


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

Key events this week:

The 1922 executive committee of Conservative backbenchers MPs narrowly rejected calls to allow a vote of confidence in Theresa May’s leadership of the Tory Party with the next two months. The vote was passed by nine votes to seven, with two members abstaining, to maintain current party rules, under which Mrs May cannot be challenged until December 2019. The committee did however call for the prime minister to provide greater clarity about when she will leave office.

According to Sky’s political editor, Beth Rigby, Theresa May might be preparing for her next vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) as early as next week. According to Conservative sources, May is planning on including in the WAB, a number of “trinkets” designed to appeal to different fractions of MPs, such as adding reassurances on workers’ rights to try and win the support from Labour MPs representing leave seats. No. 10 is also planning on adding reassurances on the use of alternative technological solutions to solve the Irish boarder question. However, as of Friday, the bill did not feature in the business for next week set out by Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons.

Parliament reconvened on Tuesday 23rd after the Easter recess, but there has been no progress in regards to the cross-party discussion between Labour and the government. There has not been any leader-level-meetings between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and no hint of any serious compromise.

Election campaigns for the European parliamentary elections are underway in the UK, with two new parties dominating the news. These are Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Change UK, which was previously known as The Independent Group and is made up of former Labour and Tory MPs who quit their parties in February. The Labour party has selected candidates, but the Conservative party is not expected to realise is candidate list until after the nomination deadline, as they are still hoping that the elections will not go ahead.

Implications for Irish food & drink companies:

While there is no immediate threat of no-deal Brexit, there is still uncertainty as to when and how the UK will leave the EU. Irish companies should continue to prepare for all Brexit possibilities in the coming months. Bord Bia’s support programmes can be found here.

Looking ahead:

  • There is a possibility that a third vote on the Withdrawal Agreement will take place next week.
  • European Parliament elections will take place on 22 May.
  • If the UK has not elected MEPs by 23 May, Britain will leave the EU on 1 June.
  • European leaders will hold a symbolic meeting in June to review the UK’s progress.
  • October 31 is the current Brexit deadline.