EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20

Monday 21 October 2019

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, again prevented the Government from bringing forward a motion for MPs to debate and vote on whether to accept the recently agreed deal between the UK and the EU, using a convention dating back to 1604.

First, I have to judge whether the motion tabled under section 13(1)(b) of the 2018 Act for debate today is the same in substance as that which was decided on Saturday. Page 397 of ‘Erskine May’ is clear that such a motion ‘may not be brought forward again during that same session.’

With the conclusion that:

My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today, as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”

It is interesting to note that the motion debated on Saturday was changed completely, following amendment to read:

“That, in light of the new deal agreed with the European Union, which enables the United Kingdom to respect the result of the referendum on its membership of the European Union and to leave the European Union on 31 October with a deal, this House has considered the matter but withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation is passed.”

Thus MPs again avoid having to actually reach a decision.

The “implementing legislation” referred to is the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20 and was introduced to the House of Commons and given its First Reading on Monday 21 October 2019. This stage is formal and takes place without any debate.

The Bill as introduced is available here:

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20

EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20 (copy pdf)


1. The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill implements the Withdrawal Agreement, as agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) on 17 October 2019. The Bill is required to implement the Withdrawal Agreement for it to have domestic legal effect and to enable the UK Government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. This Bill is also the vehicle for the Government to give effect to the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement between the UK and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement between the UK and Switzerland.

2. The Bill provides for the direct application of the Withdrawal Agreement provisions in domestic law where relevant, whilst also recognising the sovereignty of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Bill amends the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to ensure it reflects the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. The Bill also creates powers to make secondary legislation, where appropriate, to enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be implemented domestically. It includes amendments to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in relation to rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity protections contained in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998.
All these measures provide for the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the UK and the EU pertaining to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

3. This Bill also includes provision relating to facilitating access for Northern Ireland goods to the market in Great Britain, as well as further provision to ensure no alteration to the arrangements for North South cooperation can occur as a result of this Bill.

Explanatory notes on the Bill can be found at:

Bill 007 EN 2019-20

and a copy is available at

EU WA Bill 2019-20 Explanatory Notes (pdf)