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European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill

This is a Bill being fast-tracked in the House of Commons, with all its substantive stages taken in a single sitting on one day. It is expected to also be fast-tracked in the House of Lords.

Bill as introduced

The Bill was debated on 3 April 2019 through its Second Reading (Hansard: http://bit.ly/2IcSO1h )

and Committee Stage (Hansard: http://bit.ly/2Un8e9R )

Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill started at 5:54 pm and was put to a vote at 7:00 pm after 1 hour 6 minutes of debate

The voting results were

Ayes: 315 Noes: 310

and the Bill passed (by a majority of 5), its second reading, after 1 hour 6 minutes of debate.

14 “Remain” Tory rebels voted in favour of passing the second reading.

Bebb, Guto
Brine, Steve
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Harrington, Richard
Lee, Dr Phillip
Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
Morgan, rh Nicky
Sandbach, Antoinette
Spelman, rh Dame Caroline
Vaizey, rh Mr Edward

The Committee Stage of the Bill began immediately following the result of the vote on the Second Reading.

The debate started at around 7:20 pm

There appeared to be some confusion over the proposed Amendments raised at this Stage. However, here is a complete list of the amendments:

BillNo5Amendments

Selected amendments:

They are amendment 13, amendment 20, amendment 21, Government amendment 22, amendment 1, clause 1 stand part, amendment 14, amendment 6, clause 2 stand part, new clause 4, new clause 5, new clause 7 and Government new clause 13.

Votes on amendments to the Bill started at 9:54 pm after 2 hours 34 minutes of debate.

To cut a long story short, it is difficult for me to determine exactly what was being voted on, so skipping to the end after more than an hour voting on amendments to the Bill …

Voting took place at 11:09 pm with the result

Ayes: 313 Noes: 312

14 “Remain” Tory rebels voted in favour of passing the Third reading.

Bebb, Guto
Brine, Steve
Burt, rh Alistair
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Harrington, Richard
Lee, Dr Phillip
Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
Sandbach, Antoinette
Spelman, rh Dame Caroline
Vaizey, rh Mr Edward

The Bill, as amended, passed the Third Reading by a majority of 1.

The Bill has been sent to the House of Lords.

Here is a copy of the Bill as passed to the House of Lords

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0172/18172.pdf

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill (copy pdf)

Details of all stages of the Bill can be found at

https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/europeanunionwithdrawalno5.html

The Bill was considered by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution and their report is available at

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldconst/339/33903.htm

The document presents the following conclusions for consideration by members of the House of Lords during their deliberations.

6.The House may wish to consider the implications of the Bill in the following respects:

A motion passed under the terms of the Bill would place a duty on the Prime Minister to “seek an extension” to the Article 50 period, while leaving discretion as to how it should be sought. Such discretion is inevitable as there is a limit to the extent to which it is feasible for legislation to provide direction in matters of this nature.

The Bill requires the Prime Minister to move a motion on the day after it receives Royal Assent. It does not, however, specify the time during which the Prime Minister would be required to act on the motion, should it be passed by the House of Commons.

In the event that a counterproposal is made by the European Council, the Bill does not require the Prime Minister to move a motion containing the date of that counterproposal. If the Prime Minister did move a motion containing that date, it would be open to the House of Commons to amend the motion so that it specified a different date. The provisions of the Bill could be applied repeatedly in the event that departure dates agreed by the House of Commons in subsequent motions did not align with the date or dates offered by the European Council.

The Bill does not provide for how any counterproposal from the European Council should be treated in the event that conditions are attached to it.

If the European Council refuses to offer an extension, or there is otherwise a failure to reach agreement on an extension, the Bill has no further effect and the UK would leave the European Union on 12 April by default.

As the result of a Government amendment in the House of Commons, the process by which a statutory instrument to alter ‘exit day’ in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is changed from the affirmative to the negative procedure. The justification for this change, accepted by the Bill’s sponsor and the Official Opposition, was that it might be necessary to legislate as a matter of urgency to change the date of exit and that the requirement to get the approval of both Houses to an affirmative instrument could cause undesirable delay, risking a situation in which exit day in domestic law was not aligned with the exit day agreed under EU law.

A House of Lords Library Briefing covers the House of Commons stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill, prepared for Members of the House of Lords in the event that the bill is considered in the House of Lords on 4 April 2019.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/LLN-2019-0042

PM statement to the House of Commons: 29 January 2019

Theresa May gave a statement to the House of Commons following votes on the amendments to the motion debated in the House of Commons on 29 January 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

A fortnight ago, this House clearly rejected the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration with just 202 Members voting in favour.

Tonight a majority of Honourable Members have said they would support a deal with changes to the backstop. Combined with measures to address concerns over Parliament’s role in the negotiation of the future relationship and commitments on workers’ rights, in law where need be, it is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal.

We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that deal with concerns on the backstop while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. My colleagues and I will talk to the EU about how we address the House’s views.

As I said this afternoon, there is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy. But in contrast to a fortnight ago, this House has made it clear what it needs to approve a Withdrawal Agreement.

Many Honourable Members have said that the continuing protection of workers’ rights after Brexit is something that needs to be strengthened, and my Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business will intensify our work with Honourable Members from across the House and the trade unions this week.

And my Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will do the same on how we engage this House further in our approach to negotiating our future partnership with the EU.

As well as making clear what changes it needs to approve the Withdrawal agreement, the House has also reconfirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework.

I agree that we should not leave without a deal. However, simply opposing no deal is not enough to stop it.

The Government will now redouble its efforts to get a deal that this House can support and to that end I want to invite my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Meriden, the Honourable Member for Birmingham Erdington, and all those that tabled amendments in opposition to No Deal to discuss how we can deliver that by securing a deal.

In light of the defeat of the Right Honourable Member the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment I again invite him to take up my offer of the meeting to see if we can find a way forward.

Mr Speaker, if this House can come together we can deliver the decision the British people took in June 2016, restore faith in our democracy and get on with building a country that works for everyone.

And as Prime Minister I will work with Members across this House to do just that.

Brexit Debate 29 January 2019 – Result

The Brexit debate held on the 29 January 2019 resulted in an agreement to reject “No Deal” (amendment (i)) and “requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements” (amendment (n)). The House (of Commons) would then “support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change”.

The next step is for the Prime Minister to discuss with the EU whether suitable changes can be made to the Backstop arrangement, that is currently defined in the Withdrawal Agreement, which would enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be ratified by the House of Commons.

Initial indications from the EU are that “negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened“.

It is also unclear exactly what “alternative arrangements” actually mean. Could it simply be a case of adding a “legally binding” commitment for an expiry date for the Backstop and would this be sufficient ?

More details on the votes follow:

Amendments selected by the Speaker were as follows:

The following amendments in the following order: (a) in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn; (o) in the name of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Mr Ian Blackford; (g) in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve; (b) in the name of the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper; (j) in the name of the hon. Member for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves; (i) in the name of the right hon. Member for Meriden, Dame Caroline Spelman; and (n) in the name of the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West, Sir Graham Brady. Reference may be made in debate to any of the amendments on the Order Paper, including those I have not selected.

The debate was opened by Theresa May. Following lengthy discussion, votes on the amendments were taken at around 7:00 pm

Full details of the amendments can be found in earlier articles or in the order paper at

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmagenda/OP190129.pdf

Amendment (a) (Jeremy Corbyn) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 296 for and 327 against

Amendment (o) (Ian Blackford) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 39 for and 327 against

Amendment (g) (Mr Grieve) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 301 for and 321 against

Amendment (b) (Yvette Cooper) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 298 for and 321 against

Amendment (j) (Rachel Reeves) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 290 for and 322 against

Amendment (i) (Dame Caroline Spelman) was won (amendment will be made to the motion)

votes on the amendment were 318 for and 310 against

Amendment (n) (Sir Graham Brady) was won (amendment will be made to the motion)

votes on the amendment were 317 for and 301 against

So the Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to now reads:

That this House, in accordance with the provisions of section 13(6)(a) and 13(11)(b)(i) and 13(13)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, has considered the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” and made on 21 January 2019, and the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(11)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” and made on 24 January 2019, and rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship, and requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.

My additional comments would be:

#Brexit – Amendment to rule out no deal is passed by 318 votes to 310. Has the Commons “emphatically rejected” the option of a No Deal at 50.6% to 49.4% or did MPs “not understand what they were voting for” ?

#Brexit “Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” 317 to 301 (51.3% to 48.7%). What are alternative arrangements and does the EU 27 even want further discussion about it ?

It is also interesting to see in more detail the voting patterns of MPs which can be found through the Hansard proceedings for the the day via

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-01-29/debates/BB8A5769-12B4-4D0E-9B4E-158F89F9FCDE/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Act2018

For example,

for Amendment (b) (Yvette Cooper), 17 Conservative MPs voted AGAINST the Government and 14 Labour MPs voted WITH the Government.

for Amendment (g) (Mr Grieve) 15 Conservative MPs voted AGAINST the Government and 14 Labour MPs voted WITH the Government.

It appears that the main Conservative “rebels” are those strongly in favour of remaining in the EU.

The DUP voted in the Government’s favour with all the amendments.

What Next – PM Statement to Parliament on Brexit: 21 January 2019

PM made a statement to the House of Commons on Brexit, 21 January 2019

Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning Saturday’s car bomb attack in Londonderry – and paying tribute to the bravery of the Northern Ireland Police and the local community who helped to ensure that everyone got to safety. This House stands together with the people of Northern Ireland in ensuring that we never go back to the violence and terror of the past.

Mr Speaker, turning to Brexit, following last week’s vote it is clear that the Government’s approach had to change. And it has. Having established the confidence of Parliament in this government I have listened to colleagues across parliament from different parties and with different views.

Last week I met the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Westminster leaders of the DUP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, and backbench members from both sides of this House. My Right Honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also had a number of such meetings. The Government has approached these meetings in a constructive spirit, without preconditions, and I am pleased that everyone we met with took the same approach. I regret that the Right Honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has not chosen to take part so far. I hope he will reflect on that decision. Given the importance of this issue we should all be prepared to work together to find a way forward. And my Ministerial colleagues and I will continue with further meetings this week.

Let me set out the six key issues which have been at the centre of the talks to date. The first two relate to the process for moving forwards.

First, there is widespread concern about the possibility of the UK leaving without a deal. And there are those on both sides of the House who want the Government to rule this out. But we need to be honest with the British people about what that means. The right way to rule out No Deal is for this House to approve a deal with the European Union. That is what this Government is seeking to achieve. The only other guaranteed way to avoid a No Deal Brexit is to revoke Article 50 – which would mean staying in the EU.

Mr Speaker, there are others who think that what we need is more time, so they say we should extend Article 50 to give longer for Parliament to debate how we should leave and what a deal should look like. This is not ruling out no deal, but simply deferring the point of decision. And the EU are very unlikely simply to agree to extend Article 50 without a plan for how we are going approve a deal. So when people say “rule out No Deal” the consequences of what they are actually saying are that if we in Parliament can’t approve a deal we should revoke Article 50. Mr Speaker, I believe this would go against the referendum result and I do not believe that is a course of action that we should take, or which this House should support.

Meaningful Vote

Before the UK can ratify any withdrawal agreement between the UK and the European Union as an international treaty, certain statutory conditions must be met. These are set out in section 13(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. One of these conditions requires the House of Commons to approve, by resolution, the negotiated withdrawal agreement and a joint statement between the UK and the EU on the future framework of relations between the two.

Debate has been scheduled over 5 days in the House of Commons on the 4-6, 10 and 11 December 2018 with a vote on 11 December 2018.

Background Information

Brexit and the meaningful vote: The Final Countdown?

Procedure Committee Motions under section 13(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018


House of Lords library Briefing paper (pdf)


Research Briefing – A users guide to the meaningful vote


The Political Declaration on the Framework for Future EU-UK Relations (House of Commons research briefing)

Briefing Paper – Political Declaration


(Local copies)

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