One step nearer….

It’s good to have some good news on the Brexit front after hearing of the hardening of the EU’s stance on the proposed transitional arrangement and the recent but unnecessary talk of a second referendum. Last night, something positive happened which takes us one small step nearer to leaving the EU – the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons and will now go to the Lords.

Recently, the focus of Brexit has been on our future relationship with the EU once we leave. There is another equally important aspect of leaving the EU  – ensuring that we have sufficient laws in place to enable the country to run smoothly on Brexit day. Essentially, all laws passed by the EU which have then been included on our statute books derive their authority from the EU treaties, but these will cease to apply once we leave the EU and repeal the 1972 Accession treaty, so the resultant legislation also becomes null and void.

In order to avoid a legal vacuum, with no regulation at all covering areas of day to day life, laws originating with the EU must be “repatriated” so that they derive their authority from our Westminster Parliament instead and this is what the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill provides a framework for. They will not necessarily be transposed verbatim. Last year, we highlighted the problems with so doing using one particularly obnoxious law – the Fisheries Regulation 1380/2013 – as an example.

The debate over the Bill has centred on the scale of the task in ensuring all this legislation works for an independent UK. Labour has been concerned that the Government may try to twist the necessary re-wording of some directive and regulations for its own political advantage, bypassing Parliament in the process – commonly referred to by the media as the “Henry VIII powers”. However, all the proposed amendments were defeated (See here)

What is more, not a single Conservative MP voted against the bill. Even Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry trooped into the “Aye” lobby! Four Labour MPs – Kate Hoey, John Mann, Graham Stringer and Frank Field (along with the suspended Kelvin Hopkins), rebelled against the party whip to support the government which ended up with a majority of 29. They deserve our thanks. A further eight Labour MPs did not vote either way. A full list of how MPs voted can be found here.

For the benefit of anyone not familiar with Parliamentary procedure, bills normally pass through three reading before coming law. The final reding has now been completed. The predominantly Europhile House of Lords may try their hands with further amendments, but some of their number have thankfully acknowledged that it is not appropriate for an unelected body to try to mess up the democratic will of the people. There may, perhaps, be a bit of further Parliamentary ping-pong with any Lords’ amendment, but  essentially, we are one step nearer leaving the EU as very little now stands in the way of one vital piece of the Brexit jigsaw finally being put in its place.

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  1. John AshworthReply

    It is confusing this bill is called Europeon Union (Withdrawal) Bill, but the nasty one coming up is the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, which I suspect will be from this November onwards, and in between we have a Fisheries Bill.

  2. Phil JonesReply

    Yes, John, the heavy work is now over. The Parliament Act will take care of the House of Lords if it acts up. I say the heavy work is over because the legal work for a complete political break from the EU is now in place (or rather will be shortly). All that is left now is to see if a trading agreement without political ties (no EFTA nor EEA/EFTA) can be reached. If it can, fine. If it can’t, we walk away and go WTO and step off the door step (it won’t be a cliff edge! — despite the Remainers’ and Big Business’ threats. Volkswagen and BMW will be on the blower to Mrs. Merkel when they see the UK’s resolve). It’s all quite a clear choice. Where it seems to get muddied by some is that they still see the political and trading arrangements being somehow intertwined. That would only be the case if Mrs. May’s Government ‘sold us out’ and tried to go for some political half-in, half-out arrangement (such as EFTA or EEC/EFTA) to get a trading deal. Absolutely no need for that — and all of the newspapers would properly call it a complete sell-out next morning if she tried it on. NO. The political separation is now virtually complete. Heavy work but thankfully now finished. Now we start on the lighter part — seeing if some type of trading deal is possible BUT NOT AT THE COST OF ANY TYPE OF HALF-IN, HALF-OUT POLITICAL DEAL. The second part has to be kept strictly to trading only — either a trading deal done without political strings OR we walk.

  3. Gordon WebsterReply

    There is an Explanatory Paper on the Withdrawal Bill online. Some of it, especially the extended right given to Government, to use/abuse Statutory Instrument. I would be grateful if CIB would take a closer look at the Withdrawal Bill and give us a run down on just what there is to cheer about. I remain to be convinced, that it is not just another con job.

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