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Decisive victory for Boris Johnson means the UK will exit the European Union by 31st January 2020

13 December 2019
The 2019 General Election has produced a decisive result and mandate for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who campaigned on a promise to "Get Brexit Done".

As a result, the United Kingdom may now be clearly expected to formally exit the European Union on or before the 31st January 2020 on the terms agreed on 17 October 2019 in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. Negotiations will then begin for a future relationship with the EU on the basis of the agreed Political Declaration

The outcome of the election brings to an apparent end over three years of political wrangling, which has resulted in successive extensions to the Article 50 process.  The latest extension, to 11pm on 31 January 2020, was made through a Statutory Instrument which amended the definition of 'exit day' in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.    

From a legal perspective, the focus now shifts to what 'Post Brexit Law' will look like. We know that under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement there will be a transitional period during which EU law will apply as before until 31 December 2020.  This period may be extended by agreement between the UK and the EU but the Prime Minister has previously stressed an intention not to do so. 

Thereafter, under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 the European Communities Act 1972 shall be revoked and an estimated 12,000 regulations will be incorporated into domestic law (with modifications to address deficiencies).  The current arrangements are subject to any changes which may be agreed as part of the UK-EU future trading relationship.

Although the focus of the Conservative Party during the election has been primarily on Brexit, the Conservative Manifesto contains many other commitments including a more interventionist approach to regeneration (through the United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund) and greater devolution of power away from Westminster. The immediate focus though is expected to be on Brexit, with other commitments being enacted later in 2020. 

Conclusion

The decisive election result means Brexit is confidently expected to happen now by 31 January 2020. Given the transitional period under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement there will not be significant change felt immediately.  Rather, meaningful change will be expected to happen at the end of that period and will be subject to the outcome of negotiations for a future trading relationship with the EU and other countries. Businesses, public bodies and citizens will need to adapt to new Post-Brexit law and we shall be publishing regular updates to assist with this as negotiations and proposals for new domestic law develop. 

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