Withdrawal Act Provisions

Parliamentary approval of the outcome of negotiations with the European Union

The Withdrawal Act sets out Parliament’s oversight of the outcome of the UK Government’s negotiations with the EU. The withdrawal agreement may only be ratified if a number of conditions are met. These are as follows:

  • a Minister of the Crown has laid before each House of Parliament a statement that political agreement has been reached, a copy of negotiated withdrawal agreement, and a copy of the framework for the future relationship;
  • the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship have been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons;
  • a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship has been tabled in the House of Lords by a Minister of the Crown and:the House of Lords has debated the motion, or the House of Lords has not concluded a debate on the motion before the end of the period of five Lords sitting days beginning with the first Lords sitting day after the day on which the House of Commons passes the resolution outlined point above; and,
  • an Act of Parliament has been passed which contains a provision for the implementation of the withdrawal agreement.

Procedure if no Approval

Where the House of Commons decides not to pass the resolution to approve the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship a  Minister of the Crown must, within the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the House of Commons decides not to pass the resolution make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed in relation to negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

The statement must be made in writing and be published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate. A minister of the Crown must make arrangements for:

  • a motion in neutral terms, to the effect that the House of Commons has considered the matter of the statement (on how the Government proposes to proceed in relation to negotiations), to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of seven Commons sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement is made;and
  • a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of seven Lords sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement is made.

If the Prime Minister makes a statement before the end of 21st January 2019 that no agreement in principle can be reached in negotiations on the substance of:

  • the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; and
  • the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK after withdrawal.

a Minister of the Crown must, within the period of 14 days

  • make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed; and
  • make arrangements for: a motion in neutral terms, to the effect that the House of Commons has considered the matter of the statement on how the Government proposes to proceed, to be moved in the Commons by a Minister of the Crown within the period of 7 Commons sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement is made, and  a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement to be moved in the Lords by a Minister of the Crown within the period of 7 Lords sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement is made.

The  statement must be made in writing and be published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate.

No Agreement by 21st January 2019

If by the end of 21st January 2019 there is no agreement in principle in negotiations under Article 50(2) of the TEU on the substance of:

  • the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; and,
  • the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK after withdrawal.

a Minister of the Crown must, within the period of 5 days beginning with the end of 21st January 2019:

  • make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed; and,
  • make arrangements for: a motion in neutral terms, to the effect that the House of Commons has considered the matter of the statement on how the Government proposes to proceed) to be moved in the Commons by a Minister of the Crown within the period of 5 Commons sitting days beginning with the end of 21st January 2019, and a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement to be moved in the Lords by a Minister of the Crown within the period of 5 Lords sitting days beginning with the end of 21st January 2019.

November 2018 “Grieve” Amendment

The November 2018 amendment provides  provisions of House of Commons Standing Order No. 24B (Amendments to motions to consider specified matters) shall not apply in respect of any motion tabled by a Minister of the Crown pursuant to any provision of section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

Standing Order No. 24B states: “Where, in the opinion of the Speaker… a motion… is expressed in neutral terms, no amendments to it may be tabled”. Therefore the amendment disapplies this Standing Order to any motion moved under the meaningful vote section of the Act, so that any motion relating to the withdrawal process would be amendable by parliament.

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