Technicalities: The UK Government released 28 more no deal Brexit technical notices, covering areas such as EU funding programmes, energy regulation and UK-EU travel. The notices, which were published following a Cabinet meeting that examined ways to “manage, mitigate or avoid the risk of a no deal scenario”, suggested that in the event of the UK leaving without a deal: UK drivers’ licences might not be valid in the EU; travellers could face lengthy delays or rejection at EU borders; some British products would have to be re-tested by a European agency before they could be sold on the EU market; and travellers could face significantly higher mobile roaming charges. The Scottish Government called for the Article 50 process to be extended to avoid leaving without a deal, with Michael Russell claiming they showed “the crippling costs and needless red tape that a ‘no deal’ scenario will bring.” The Cabinet Secretary had earlier attended a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiation alongside David Mundell and other ministers.
Harvest Time: Earlier in the week, the UK Government introduced its Agriculture Bill. The legislation is intended to ensure the necessary transition measures will be in place following Brexit. It will include a provision to replace the current system of direct payments with a new environmental land management system. NFU Scotland described the Bill as the “next step towards determining the industry’s post-Brexit future” but the Soil Association suggested the Bill was not “radical enough”. The Scotland Office published a “myth-buster” on the impact of the Bill in Scotland to stress that agriculture will remain devolved. Defra also published a policy statement setting out England’s agricultural policy for the next ten years and how the Agriculture Bill is intended to help achieve this. A report by the National Audit Office found the Department had achieved a “great deal in difficult circumstances” when preparing for Brexit but had missed “a high proportion” of project milestones. Auditors concluded there was a “high risk” Defra would not be able to deliver its no deal preparations. Finally, SPICe published a briefing on post-Brexit plans for agriculture.
Having A Word: Spinwatch and Unlock Democracy published a pamphlet about lobbyists and Brexit. They claimed policy design is increasingly being outsourced to private lobbyists and “Brexit has also been a financial boon for ex-government officials”. Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, argued the perception that government ministers were more willing to listen to lobbyists than voters undermined trust in politics. She added: “We know that change is possible, and need to look no further than the comprehensive lobbying register in Scotland to see that lobbying can be brought into the open when the political will is there.”