In a historic defeat, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May saw a dramatic rejection of her Brexit deal on Tuesday (Jan. 15), adding renewed uncertainty as to how the U.K. and the European Union (EU) will coexist after the U.K.’s departure later this year.
Among those uncertainties is how the U.K. government will affect public procurement. The government recently published guidance on the matter, ensuring that EU legislation will be adopted in the U.K. as it relates to public procurement in the case of a no-deal Brexit. However, according to Caroline Ramsay, partner of Pinsent Masons, the guidance also sheds light on details about how government suppliers will have to seek out opportunities following Brexit.
“The government confirms some new practical detail, for example, that contract opportunity advertising will be slightly different, and both contracting authorities and tenderers should note these changes,” she told Out-Law.com, which is operated by Pinsent Masons.
In the case of a no-deal Brexit, opportunities for suppliers to land contracts with the U.K. government may not be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union, where such EU deals are listed. The U.K. plans to launch a separate electronic service advertising the opportunities, which it plans to have in operation by the day the U.K. departs the EU.
The changes will have the greatest impact on vendors that are not currently using the EU service.
“Some existing eNotification providers will have automatic access to the new U.K. eNotification service, but not all,” explained Ramsay. “Contracting authorities, which use separate eNotification platforms instead of the European Tenders Electronic Daily [TED], are, therefore, advised to check to ensure that their notices continue to be properly advertised.”
Data published last year from the government revealed nearly half of its spend on digital solutions and services goes toward small vendors, which Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden attributed to the U.K.’s adoption of a digital marketplace for electronic procurement.