Utility Week

Utility Week 23 06 17

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10 | 23RD - 29TH JUNE 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Budget / Brexit Policy & Regulation Brexit vote: one year on Exactly one year after the referendum and with negotiations just beginning, David Blackman assesses where we stand. I t is exactly a year ago today that the UK voted to leave the European Union. How- ever, negotiations on Britain's exit began only this week. And the nature of Brexit is, if anything, less clear now than it has ever been, follow- ing the muddy outcome of 8 June's snap gen- eral election. The Conservatives' failure to win an out- right majority has le them reliant on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). These notoriously staunch defenders of the United Kingdom take a soer line on Brexit than that outlined by Conservatives earlier this year. The close links between the economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland mean the DUP is keen to ensure trading rela- tionships remain as open as possible follow- ing Brexit. That extends to energy, where the DUP's manifesto backs the maintenance of the all-Ireland single energy market (SEM). The importance of this issue for the DUP, cou- pled with the European Commission's insist- ence that Irish issues should be a priority in the negotiations, means it is much less likely that the future of the SEM gets lost in the wider Brexit negotiations, says Anthony Froggatt, a senior research fellow in energy and environmental issues at the security thinktank Chatham House. That is good news, according to Munir Hassan, partner and head of clean energy at CMS Cameron McKenna, who argues that unwinding the SEM would be "completely unwise, potentially rewinding the clock back to a period we don't want to go to". "On both sides of that border there will be a huge body [of interested parties] looking for sensible outcomes," he says. The combined votes of the DUP and the Tories' 13-strong contingent of Scottish MPs means it will be very difficult for prime minister Theresa May to win a majority in the House of Commons for the hard Brexit negotiating position outlined by the govern- ment earlier this year, increasing the chances that the UK will remain involved in the EU's energy arrangements. "If May had got a bigger majority, she would have gone for a very hard Brexit. Now she is clearly constrained by her colleagues." Tim Yeo, the Conservative former chairman of the energy and cli- mate change select committee 14 April 2015: Conservative manifesto launched, including the promise of an in/out referendum 7 May 2015: polling day Brexit timeline EU REFERENDUM RESULT Remain 48.1% (16,141,241 votes) Leave 51.9% (17,410,741 votes) Unwinding the SEM would be "completely unwise, potentially rewinding the clock back to a period we don't want to go to." Munir Hassan, partner and head of clean energy, CMS Cameron McKenna 8 May 2015: Conservatives win a 12-seat majority 20 February 2016: PM David Cameron sets the date of 23 June for the EU referendum 2016 2015 • 23 June 2016: Referendum vote • 24 June 2016: Results show a 52:48 vote to leave the EU; David Cameron resigns as PM 13 July 2016: Theresa May named as new PM

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