Prime Minister Theresa May declared that she will seek “legally binding changes” to her Brexit deal after members of Parliament voted to back a new proposal to replace the Northern Ireland backstop.
But a spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters, in response to a series of House of Commons votes late on January 29, that “the backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation”.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 30, also published in the February 4 edition of Tax Notes International:
May to Seek ‘Binding Changes’ as MPs Oppose No-Deal Brexit
Planning for a no-deal Brexit among larger businesses is “highly variable,” but prudent firms will keep preparing so long as such an outcome “remains an option,” said James Stewart, head of Brexit at KPMG UK.
“Many of the businesses we’re speaking to are praying for an extension to article 50,” Stewart said in a January 28 statement. “At this stage even our most informed clients feel as if anything could happen. They’re thinking about getting products from A to B, market access, and staffing up situation rooms for April,” he said, adding that there are “no safe bets.” My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 29:
U.K. Firms ‘Praying’ for More Time to Plan for Brexit
The cost of decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure is “highly uncertain,” and there are gaps in the UK government’s understanding of the impact of tax changes in the sector, the National Audit Office said.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 26:
U.K. Watchdog Flags Uncertainty Over Oil and Gas Tax Reliefs
HM Revenue & Customs defended its implementation of devolved income tax rates as tax professionals reported errors in the identification of Scottish taxpayers.
HMRC was unable to provide the National Audit Office with an action plan for the implementation of Welsh income tax, setting out “lessons learned” from the earlier implementation of Scottish income tax, the NAO said in a January 24 report. The plan was drawn up after a July 2017 event attended by HMRC staff involved in the Scottish project…
My news story for Tax Notes (free to view), published January 25:
HMRC Defends Devolution Record Amid Tax Code Error Reports
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn presented a motion of no confidence in the UK government after members of Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal in a crushing 202-432 vote.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 16:
U.K. Government Faces No-Confidence Vote After Brexit Defeat
Prime Minister Theresa May urged members of Parliament to give her Brexit deal a second look, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said “assurances” over the Irish backstop were “nothing but warm words and aspirations.”
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 15:
May’s Critics Reject ‘Assurances’ Over Brexit Backstop
A no-deal Brexit cannot be “managed” and is “certainly not desirable,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, Confederation of British Industry director general, as business leaders expressed frustration over the continued political impasse.
“The responsibility to ensure an orderly exit is now in Parliament’s hands. Each MP is democratically chosen to safeguard the security and prosperity of our country. And next week they face a test. If they meet it with yet more brinkmanship, the whole country could face a no-deal, disorderly Brexit. The economic consequences would be profound, widespread, and lasting,” Fairbairn told a business audience in Bristol January 11…
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 12:
U.K. Business Leaders Vent Frustration Ahead of Brexit Vote
Other stories published in week of January 7:
Labour Leader Prioritizes Election and a New Brexit Deal
MPs Vote to Tighten Grip on Brexit Process
‘Stormont Lock’ Fails to Win DUP Support for Brexit Backstop
The UK Parliament’s vote to restrict a new Treasury power to make tax regulations shows its determination to prevent a “chaotic and damaging” no-deal Brexit, said Labour member of Parliament Yvette Cooper. My news story (paywall) for Tax Notes, January 9:
May Urged to Rule Out No-Deal Brexit After Finance Bill Defeat
Brexit dominates the political agenda, but it is by no means the only issue on tax professionals’ minds. Some of the challenges facing tax advisers were addressed by the House of Lords economic affairs committee in December. The committee’s report is essential reading for policymakers.
Concerns expresses by nine tax specialists in my article for a Tolley Tax supplement (not available online) to the January 2019 edition of Tax Adviser included the complexity of tax law, the impact of automation, the quality of HMRC’s service, and the department’s approach to avoidance and evasion.
Prime Minister Theresa May continued to seek reassurances from European leaders about the EU withdrawal agreement as it emerged that most members of her own party would favour a no-deal Brexit.
Three-quarters of respondents in a survey of 1,215 Conservative Party activists said they regarded as “exaggerated or invented” warnings that a no-deal Brexit could cause severe short-term disruption, such as shortages of food and medicines. My news story (paywall) for Tax Notes, January 7:
May Suffers Setback as Conservatives Back No-Deal Brexit