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Seriously, it's becoming difficult to be serious about the farce that is "brexit." Last night, eight options for brexit were put before the UK House of Commons. The plan - it had one of those stupid names that the Blair government with its PR-driven actions would be proud of - was to put a series of "indicative votes" to the House and then, depending on what happened, to have a third "meaningful vote" which even has its own acronym: MV3. Behind the scenes (which is made of some kind of sheer fabric so we can all see what's happening) there is a backstage drama being played out with May's Faustian bargain with the EU being behind an Ides of March moment: so many members of her own party are being lined up to be Brutus to her Ceasar that there is a real prospect of an "I am Spartacus" moment. You think we're being too theatrical? Just wait until you read what happened last night. Carry on up the ...

Press release: 20 March 2019 (verbatim)

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and European Banking Authority (EBA) are announcing today that they have agreed a template Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The template sets out the expectations for supervisory cooperation and information-sharing arrangements between UK and EU/EEA national authorities.

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A temporary permissions regime was put in place in January after the House of Commons rejected the May/EU deal. Exit day may have been postponed for a short time but increasingly there is a possibility that contingency plans must be made. Time is running out to act under the regime, unless the FCA chooses to extend it. The deadline is, as of now, 28th March 2019.

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The EU is quietly laughing up its sleeve at yet another example of how it exercises control over the UK's withdrawal process. While EU leaders are selling it as a concession, the extension that the 27 countries that will remain in the Union have told the UK it can have comes with strings that impose conditions on the UK Parliament.

Parliament has recognised the will of the people and decided that, even if there is a referendum on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, such a referendum would not include a "Remain" option. It has also rejected the Prime Minister's motion to delay withdrawal.

Here's a good argument in favour of leaving the EU: last night the UK's House of Commons voted against leaving the European Union without a deal in place to ensure an orderly exit. But, they are impotent : whether the UK leaves on 29th March without a negotiated "divorce," is governed by the Lisbon Treaty. And the Lisbon Treaty is superior to British law and, even, the British Parliament.

As we noted yesterday, this newspaper's review of the so-called binding agreement reached with the EU, did not actually prevent the feared lock-in that Leavers want to ensure does not happen. The Attorney-General agreed and when his view was put before Parliament, MPs voted down the supposedly revised deal. Again. That leaves Mrs May to follow Plan X.

Today is a big day in the UK's parliament. It's a re-run of the so-called "meaningful vote" and it's pretty much the last chance for the UK to avoid leaving the EU without an exit strategy a.k.a. deal although there are plans X,Y and maybe Z to avoid that happening, at least one of which will rely on the co-operation of the EU - or might not, depending on how one views a particular part of the Lisbon Convention.

The European Union is very good at one thing: being excessively bureaucratic and prescriptive. There's a powerful reason for this: most countries in the EU have grown up with the Roman system of law which mutated into the civil legal system and that relies, heavily, on codification. It also means that laws are inflexible and cannot easily respond to changes in society and that fetters the ability of judges to maintain a living justice system. And yet, on the other hand, it uses vague, even sloppy, language to announce what it going to do. A marketing pitch that says "Whistleblower (sic) protection: Commission sets new, EU-wide rules" is misleading - the protection of whistle-blowers is only part of the proposal (no rules were actually set). The proposed Directive will mean big changes for all but the smallest businesses.

CoNet Section: 

The European Union has issued a new blacklist for money laundering. The reaction from those appearing on the list, EU members and even the FATF has been rapid and forceful: the list is not acceptable. But there is more at play, including the imposition of direct control on those conducting business in the EU, by the EU without the filter of national parliaments. This example of federalism is not going down well in several large EU states. Also, the "war on dirty money" is a convenient diversion for governments who want the media to focus on that rather than something else. Also.. it might not happen.

The EC has released a note on a meeting held last week between the EU's President Juncker and the UK's Prime Minister May. It's pathetic. Read it below. Then read on to find out why we say they are both right but they are both wrong.

When historians look back on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, they will be focussed on whatever interests them: for some it will be the will of the people, for some it will be the choice of a "Remain" campaigner to lead the exit negotiations, for others it will focus on any one of dozens of politically motivated stands and rhetoric and for others it will focus on the drama that has surrounded attempts to do something mind-numbingly complicated that has never been done before under what turns out to be an arbitrary time-table. Then there will be the fact that partisan interests have taken over from the national interest. As T. May has long been diverted from the deal into fighting for her political life, one thing is clear; nothing is clear.

There is no fixed deadline for a deal to be done but there is, in principle, a date upon which the UK will no longer be part of the EU. That date, however, is not actually as fixed as it might appear and there is authority for saying that the UK could press reset and start the whole negotiation period afresh when the UK and the EU have got their acts together.

We have considered what a "soft brexit" means (here) and in this article, we look at a "hard brexit" also known as a "no deal brexit."

This is not about money laundering. It's about how the UK is de-EU-ing law and regulation ready for "exit day." The UK's draft statutory instrument called "The Money Laundering and Transfer of Funds (Information) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018" is an object lesson in technical documentation. It has no life of its own and can only be read alongside other UK law and Regulations. It is of extraordinary importance not because of what it does but because of what it demonstrates. This is an indication of the clerical complexity of withdrawing from the EU even when the principles, as they will in relation to the Money Laundering Directives, will remain as now.

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