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EU Withdrawal Bill – House of Lords 18 June 2018

On the 18th June 2018, Lords debated the EU Withdrawal Bill following its return to the House of Lords as part of the “ping-pong” stage.

Folowing debate and votes, there are now 4 outstanding amendments to the Bill which will be returned to the Commons for consideration on 20 June 2018.

The only amendment which is likely to go to a vote will be on the “meaningful vote” amendment.

https://goo.gl/KHRpb9

The Lords voted 354-235 in favour of this amendment, Motion F3 aka Grieve II, by Viscount Hailsham tabled on behalf of Dominic Grieve.

This was an amendment which reflected the agreement Conservative backbenchers thought they had reached with the Government. It says that, if Parliament rejects the deal brought back from Brussels, then the Commons will vote on a motion to approve a statement made by a minister setting out what the Government plans to do next. If no deal is reached with the EU by 21 January 2019, then a minister must make a statement setting out how the Government plans to proceed and the Commons must approve this statement in a motion.

Editors Comment

Some thoughts …

There does appear to be an anti-Brext sentiment prevailing in the House of Lords as evidenced during the debate on this amendment

The Proposer of the amendment Viscount Hailsham said:

“I do not believe in Brexit, that is perfectly true. I think it is a national calamity.”

Current thinking is that the Government will strongly resist the amendment.

Dominic Grieve claims that he “does not wish to delay or frustrate Brexit”, and then visits the European Commission for a meeting with Alistair Campbell and other anti-brexit campaigners

Grieve recently said, on BBC One’s Sunday Politics program, when asked if voting against the government could eventually bring it down “We could collapse the government and I can assure you I wake up at 2am in a cold sweat thinking about the problems that we have put on our shoulders.”

It is unclear if the Government is defeated on this amendment, whether a vote of no confidence could take place. An alternative if this happened, could be for the PM to resign and/or call for a General Election.

In my opinion, I think it highly possible that there will be a General Election called before the UK leaves the EU. Is the recent announcement of increased funding for the NHS partly funded from the non-payment of membership fees to the EU club, an attempt to sweeten a posible General Election in the Autumn?

Have preparations started in case of a no-deal Brexit ? (If they haven’t already started 2 years ago !! ). The apparent intransigence of the EU negotiators indicates a lack of negotiating in “good faith” and they appear to dictate rather than negotiate terms for the Withdrawal from and Future relationship between the UK and EU there is a strong possibility that a deal will not be reached.

Framework for the UK-EU partnership: Company law

The UK Government has published a framework document that focuses on the UK’s proposals for a joint approach on company law (accounting and audit).

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/framework-for-the-uk-eu-partnership-company-law-accounting-and-auditing

The role of company law in the economic partnership

UK and EU markets are deeply interconnected. Accounting and audit frameworks facilitate cross border listing of securities. And companies across borders rely extensively on accounting and audit services provided in other countries. This underpins strong markets and contributes to our joint economic prosperity.

Third country regimes for accounting and audit equivalence and adequacy exist in some
areas.

Existing third country regimes do not guarantee sufficient stability of coverage by the end of the Implementation Period. UK and EU companies and enforcers need early assurance that our accounting and audit standards will be equivalent, especially given our unique starting point and complete convergence on day one of exit.

They also do not provide sufficient stability that equivalence will continue to provided. Companies and enforcers would benefit from greater confidence that equivalence will not be withdrawn without undue notice.

Existing third country regimes do not cover all accounting and audit issues, notably corporate reporting and audit requirements, and audit firm registrations. We would be interested in exploring the mutual benefits of agreeing provisions on these issues.

Framework for the UK-EU partnership Civil judicial cooperation

The UK Government has published a framework document that explains the UK Government’s vision for the UK-EU partnership Civil judicial cooperation.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/framework-for-the-uk-eu-partnership-judicial-civil-cooperation

International civil judicial cooperation rules deliver legal certainty and protect the rights of citizens and businesses. The EU is party to a range of international agreements in this area, and the EU and its Member States, including the UK, have developed that cooperation further.

The UK and EU have each said they want an ambitious future partnership incorporating a close economic relationship and recognising the ties between our citizens. It is in the interests of UK and EU families, consumers and businesses to agree a framework for civil judicial cooperation reflecting the unique nature of that partnership, supporting not only trade but mobility.

The UK wants to build on existing precedents between the EU and third countries for close cooperation in civil judicial matters in establishing this framework. The EU has already signalled that it is willing to consider such deeper cooperation with the UK in family law.

A new, bespoke agreement across the full range of civil judicial cooperation should form part of wider UK-EU discussions on the framework for our future relationship.

EU Withdrawal Bill – update 14 June 2018

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the House of Commons from the House of Lords on Tuesday 12 June as part of the process known as “ping-pong”. 15 amendments were added to the Bill by the Lords and were debated over the 12th and 13th June in the House of Commons.

The Government accepted one of the amendments, 8 were rejected, and MPs accepted Government changes to the remaining 6 amendments.

Notes on the amendments are available at:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0111/18111.1-7.html

and are also summarized in more detail at:

https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/eu-withdrawal-bill-amendments-and-debates

A major issue concerned an amendment that would allow MPs to decide the next course of action if Parliament were to reject the Government’s final Brexit deal with the EU or if no deal is reached. This would hand control of the negotiations to MP’s to set and negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU.

A number of “remainer” Tory “rebels”, led by Dominic Grieve, had threatened to vote against the Government (of which they are a part) unless significant concessions were made. Tory MP Philip Lee resigned from his role as a junior Justice Minister in order to vote against the Government. The PM held talks with more than 14 Tory rebels prior to the vote and appeared to have persuaded the rebels not to vote against the Government. She promised to address the rebels concerns in an amendment to be returned to the House of Lords. The Government won the vote by 324 votes to 298.

Following the votes, there was little time left to debate concerns raised by the SNP over Brexit and its affect on devolution. This sparked a walkout by all SNP MPs during Prime Ministers Questions after their leader Ian Blackford clashed with the Speaker John Bercow.

Labour were not without their own troubles with 75 MPs voting in favour of the amendment for the UK to join the European Economic Area after Brexit and 15 voting against. The labour party leadership had ordered its MPs to abstain. This also caused 5 MPs to quit their front bench posts in order to vote.

Th Bill was subsequently returned to the House of Lords for further debate due on Monday 18th June 2018.

Press statement by Michel Barnier on 8 June 2018

Press statement by Michel Barnier following negotiations with the UK during 5-8 June 2018.

Brussels, 8 June 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to be here to debrief you on the round of negotiations which has just ended, less than three weeks from the European Council.

I would like to frankly present to you today, as I usually do, the three points of this negotiation:

  • The separation issues
  • The major question of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in light of the UK paper presented yesterday
  • The future partnership and the conditions to succeed.

First of all, a general remark:

It is now time to take decisions and make choices. Time is short. In less than 10 months, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, as it so wished. And, I repeat, we must conclude an agreement on the orderly withdrawal by autumn to give the necessary time on both sides for ratification – which was always my objective.

We continue to work intensely and, on our side, we will continue to explain calmly and clearly our positions, as well as recalling – as is sometimes necessary – what the European Union, the Single Market and the Customs Union are. And, seeing as time is short, I also recall that we are always available and ready to intensify the rhythm of our meetings and negotiations.

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