It’s the first day of the parliamentary term. MPs and peers are back in Westminster, slightly tanned and with pencils sharpened. They’re all set to scrutinise the government’s flagship Brexit legislation, the Great Repeal Bill, which is officially put to parliament today.
Hoping for a gold star is the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, who will set out the government’s position in the Commons before the bill is debated on Thursday.
Here are four Brexit topics you might want to brush up on before class…
How’s the economy doing?
There’s good news and bad news.
A survey of British manufacturers out today says firms are exporting more to the EU than they were this time last year. It’s been suggested that a weaker pound – which makes UK exports relatively cheaper abroad – is behind the rise.
But the fact that sterling is struggling also pushes up the cost of everyday items for British consumers. Inflation is now at 2.6 per cent – up from just 0.8 per cent in June 2016. We looked at how this trend in prices is affecting the average Brit earlier in the summer.
And firms are still worried about falling demand for their products from UK customers. The latest figures from Office for National Statistics show that business investment in the UK economy grew by just 0.1 per cent between the first and second quarter of this year. And spending by consumers didn’t grow at all in that time.
What’s happening with the divorce bill?
One of the toughest questions in the Brexit debate is who owes what when we leave.
In July, Nigel Farage, one of the foremost proponents of Brexit, said that the UK wouldn’t have to pay the EU anything after 2020. We FactChecked him on this at the time, and showed that his argument didn’t stack up. His employer, LBC, later made clear that his comment was “not accurate”.
In recent days, the issue of what we could owe the EU after Brexit has surfaced again.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said last week that there had been “no decisive progress” on the question. David Davis fired back, claiming that the EU were not being as “flexible and pragmatic” as Britain.
So as yet, we don’t know what the divorce bill – if one materialises – will look like.
What do we know about migration?
The number of EU citizens leaving the UK is already up, and the number of new arrivals is down. Last month, we looked at the most recent data, which shows a 40 per cent fall in net migration from the EU since the Brexit vote.
What’s less clear is what will happen to the three million EU nationals who want to continue living and working in the UK after Brexit.
The government said in June that after we leave the EU, “we will create new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens resident here before our exit”, and that “qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status”. Once an individual qualifies under that system, they will be given indefinite leave to remain.
But in an article co-written by fellow members of the European Parliament, one of the EU’s key Brexit coordinators, Guy Verhofstadt, described the UK’s offer to EU nationals as a “damp squib”.
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said in July that most of the cabinet agrees that EU citizens should be free to work in Britain during the “transition period”, which could last a number of years.
FactCheck looked at this debate in more detail back in July.
What’s going on with the European Court of Justice?
In August, the government set out its position on what our future relationship with the European Court of Justice might look like.
But FactCheck found that in many ways, the government’s papers raise more questions than they answer. Interestingly, they leave open the possibility that ECJ rulings could find their way into UK law after Brexit.