Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Prorogation of Parliament to achieve "no deal" Brexit

Let's take back control
The destructive testing of the UK's uncodified constitution continues as the possibility of a Prorogation of Parliament is suggested to enable a new Prime Minister to push through a 31 October "no deal" Brexit.   The new PM will be the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest - selected by 330 Conservative MPs and the 130,000 (or so) party members.  The party does not have a majority in the House of Commons and governs with a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Removing Parliament

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Justice Report ~ Prosecuting sexual offences

Justice Report:

Justice has published the report of Working Party - Prosecuting Sexual Offences

"Recent years have seen a surge in sexual offence allegations. The uncovering of non-recent crimes, a rise in reporting, shifting cultural attitudes and the internet have all contributed to a large increase of cases entering the criminal justice system. In turn, this increase has thrown into the spotlight the complexities of prosecuting sexual offences. The report calls for important reforms to protect complainants and vulnerable individuals and recommends stronger obligations on internet companies to safeguard children and stop online sexual offences from taking place."

Friday, 7 June 2019

Dennis Hutchings ~ Application for Judicial Review

"Trial by jury is a hallowed principle of the administration of justice ..." - per Lord Judge CJ in R v Twomey [2010] 1 WLR 630.

A previous post looked at the on-going case of former soldier Dennis Hutchings - Northern Ireland - talking Points (30 October 2018)

Mr Dennis Hutchings (now aged 78) served with the Life Guards Regiment in Northern Ireland.  He is facing trial

Thursday, 6 June 2019

As the Brexit Clock ticks

Updated 11 June - 14 June:

The Brexit clock is ticking.  It is now 56 days since the Article 50 "flexible" extension to 31 October was agreed on 10 April 2019 - read the Council Conclusions and Council Decision 10 April.   147 days are left until 31 October.  The 56 days have seen the elections for the European Parliament, the announcement by Theresa May that she is to resign as Conservative Party leader on 7 June, and the commencement of a Conservative Party leadership election.   The seemingly intractable problem of Brexit remains.

Leadership election:

In the leadership election

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Private prosecution commenced against Boris Johnson

Updated 7 June

A District Judge sitting at Westminster Magistrates' Court has decided that a summons will be issued to bring Mr Boris Johnson MP before the court in respect of allegations of misconduct in public office.

The decision to issue the summons was handed down by District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) Margaret Coleman and has been published by the Judiciary - see Marcus Ball v Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

It is important to note

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Notable cases - (6) - R v R


House of Lords - Last Judgment 2009
For centuries, rape has rightly been regarded as one of the most serious criminal offences.   Under common law it was defined as 'the unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman by force and against her will.'  The required state of mind (mens rea) was an intention on the part of the defendant to have intercourse without consent.  The common law position was considered by the House of Lords in the Morgan case in 1975 - reported [1976] AC 182.

In 1736, Sir Matthew Hale commented

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

European Parliamentary Election 2019 ~ Facts

The European Parliamentary Elections were held throughout the European Union over 23-26 May 2019.  The UK election was on 23 May.  The Parliament has 751 seats and the UK allocation is 73.

The powers of the European Parliament's powers derive from Articles 223 to 234 and 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

After the elections one of the first tasks of an incoming Parliament is to elect a new President of the European Commission (the EU’s executive body).  Member states nominate a candidate for the post, but in doing so they must take account of the European election results.  Moreover, Parliament needs to approve the new Commission President by an absolute majority (half of the existing MEPs plus one). - see How are the Commission President and Commissioners appointed.

The overall voting turnout in the EU

Friday, 24 May 2019

Emmerdale - the Jacob and Maya storyline


Emmerdale is a an ITV Yorkshire "soap opera" set in a fictitious village in the Yorkshire Dales. The programme is known for tackling difficult subjects and a recent storyline has been about teacher Maya Stepney (played by Louisa Clein) and her pupil Jacob Gallagher (Joe-Warren Plant).  Maya Stepney was the girl friend of Jacob's father David Metcalfe (played by Matthew Wolfenden).  The story began when Jacob was aged 15 and he and '30-seomthing' Maya became friendly.  It developed into an intimate relationship once he became 16. 

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is the key legislation containing the definitions of many sexual offences.  The background to the legislation is set out in the Explanatory Notes.  This post looks at two offences

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Notable cases (5) - Attorney-General v De Keyser's Royal Hotel

Prerogative powers have considerable importance in modern times.  This is particularly the case in foreign affairs and defence.  In practice, the powers are exercisable by Ministers who are accountable to Parliament.

In Burmah Oil v Lord Advocate [1965] AC 75,  Lord Reid observed that there was practically no authority on the prerogative from the Revolution Settlement of 1688-9 until World War 1.  Attorney-General v De Keyser's Royal Hotel is a key House of Lords decision from that period.

De Keyser:

1916, in the midst of World War 1, the

Monday, 20 May 2019

Notable cases (4) - Conway v Rimmer

In Conway v Rimmer [1968] AC 910, [1968] UKHL 2 the House of Lords (Lords Reid, Morris, Hodson, Pearce and Upjohn) brought about a major change in the way in which claims, usually by Ministers, to avoid disclosure of evidential material were to be handled.  Such claims were based on what was then referred to as "Crown Privilege."  That term has been replaced by Public Interest Immunity (PII).

Duncan v Cammell Laird:

Thetis, a name from Greek mythology, was also the name given to a T-class Royal Navy submarine built and launched in 1938 by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.

On 1 June 1939, HMS Thetis undertook diving trials in Liverpool Bay to the north of Llandudno.  103 men were on board.  Due to excessive water intake via the torpedo tubes, Thetis sank and her bows became stuck in the sea bed.  She was unable to get free.  Four men (including the captain) escaped via a small escape hatch but a build up of carbon dioxide in the submarine resulted in the deaths of the other 99.

It took

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Notable cases (3) - Scott v Scott 1913 - Open justice

Viscount Haldane LC (1856-1928)
'In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice.” “Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial' - Jeremy Bentham

Open justice:

Scott v Scott  was decided by the House of Lords in 1913 - Viscount Haldane LC, Earl of Halsbury, Earl Loreburn, Lord Atkinson and Lord Shaw of Dunfermline.

Mrs. Scott (appellant) filed her petition

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Privacy International in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has handed down judgment in Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal [2019] UKSC 22.  The appeal was heard on 3 and 4 December 2018 before 7 Justices - Lady Hale, Lords Reed, Kerr, Wilson, Sumption, Carnwath and Lloyd-Jones.   By a majority, Privacy International's appeal was successful.  The Regulatory Powers Act 2000 s67(8) as it stood at the relevant time was not sufficient to exclude (oust) the jurisdiction of the High Court to conduct judicial review proceedings.

Background:

The case concerned

Monday, 13 May 2019

Notable cases (2) - Anisminic

Dark forest to sunrise
It is just over 50 years since the seminal House of Lords decision in Anisminic v Foreign Compensation Commission which brought about a major change in the approach to statutory provisions seeking to protect decision-making bodies (mainly tribunals) from judicial review.  Many such bodies have a specialist remit but nevertheless one that is limited by the relevant legislation.  In very simplistic terms, a tribunal given power to make decisions about apples is not empowered to make decisions about oranges.  Of course, such bodies have to decide whether a particular matter comes within their remit.  The question arises - What is the effect if the body makes a legally wrong decision?  Should such a decision be capable of 'immunisation' from judicial review?

History - Judicial Review:

The first common law court was the Norman Curia Regis at the time of William I (1066 - 1087).  After the Norman conquest

Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ~ Judicial Review ~ Privacy International

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) was created by Part IV of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and it replaced a number of tribunals created by earlier legislation - e.g. under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 s.7 (as originally enacted).

Although its name includes the word "Tribunal" it lies outside the general tribunal structure .  The President of the IPT is Lord Justice Singh and there are nine other members including 2 High Court Judges - Edis and Sweeney JJ.  The qualifications for tribunal membership are set out in RIPA Schedule 3.

The Tribunal

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Coroners ~ Suicide ~ Standard of Proof

At around 5.20 in the morning of 11 July 2016 James Maughan was found hanging in his prison cell at HMP Bullingdon. A ligature had been tied to the bedframe and attached to his neck. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. There was evidence that in the past he had mental health and other problems and that there had been previous attempts at suicide and self-harm.

In such circumstances, an inquest was required to be held and was held. The inquest took place between 9 and 12 October 2017 before the Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire and a jury.

The principal issues raised

Friday, 10 May 2019

Notable cases (1) - Woolmington

John Sankey 1866-1948
In 1935, Reginald Woolmington (W) was tried for the murder, in December 1934, of his wife (Violet).  His trial was held at the Somerset Assizes in Taunton on 23 January 1935 but, after only one hour and twenty-five minutes, the jury was unable to agree.  In those days a jury had to be unanimous and majority verdicts were not introduced until the Juries Act 1974.  Mr Woolmington (W) then faced a second trial at Bristol Assizes (Mr Justice Swift and a jury) on 14 February.  He was convicted and sentenced to death.  The death penalty for murder lasted until the Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act 1965.

One remarkable feature of the case is the short timescale of less than 2 months from the alleged murder to trial and sentence.  Timescales today are usually very much longer.  For instance,

Law Reporting - in brief

Thanks to generations of "Law Reporters" we have an extensive heritage of law reports in which are recorded the details of cases, the legal arguments, the reasoning of the judges and their decisions on the law.  Case law, as found in the various law reports, is a source of law through the mechanism of the doctrine of precedent. According to this doctrine, a court is bound by the decisions of a court above it in the hierarchy and, usually, by a court of equivalent standing.  Superior courts have the power to overrule decisions of lower courts and in certain cases to depart from their own decisions.  The modern doctrine of the binding force of judicial precedent only fully emerged when there was good law reporting and a settled judicial hierarchy.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Donations to Political Parties

European Parliament
In a televised interview, Mr Nigel Farage would not reveal the name of a donor who gave s "small" donation of £100,000 to his recently formed Brexit Party - The New European 5 May 2019.  Mr Farage told his interviewer - Sophy Ridge of Sky News - that the name would be revealed at the end of July which is, of course, well after the European Parliament Elections currently scheduled for 23 May 2019.  In an earlier interview with LBC's Iain Dale, Mr Farage was similarly "coy" about sources of money though he said that 70,000 people had registered at £25 each (= £1.75m).

According to

Monday, 6 May 2019

Line of Duty ~ Legal angles

Series 5 Episode 6 of BBC Television's Line of Duty (Cast List) was screened on Sunday evening 5 May.  The programme has offered gripping viewing as the fictitious AC12 led by Police Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) battled to reveal corrupt elements in the Police Service.   With at least one more series on the horizon, it is perhaps no surprise that the programme delivered some, but not all, of the answers viewers had been waiting for - Digital Spy 5 May.

We discovered that Ted Hastings was not "H" because there is no "H" even though we had been led to believe that there was!  In a previous series,

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Updates ~ Sunday 5 May

In February, the Home Secretary deprived Shamima Begum of British Citizenship.  That decision was considered in this post of 23 February 2019 and it is understood that she is appealing the decision.  It is now reported that the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister has said that she would "face the death penalty" for terrorism if she came to Bangladesh - BBC News 3 May 2019.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Gavin Williamson MP and the NSC / Huawei leak - No.2

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office appeared to be hoping to draw a line under the dismissal of the Secretary of State for Defence - Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson MP - see previous post 2 May 2019.  Things may not necessarily work out that way.

1.  A letter (dated 2 May) from Mr Tom Watson (Labour) to the Prime Minister requests that information gathered by the inquiry into the leak is passed to the Metropolitan Police.  Watson argues that - "It is not for the ministers or civil servants in the Cabinet Office to determine whether the information they have gathered meets the threshold for a criminal investigation.  Public interest dictates that it is the Police and CPS that must make this assessment."

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Gavin Williamson MP and the NSC / Huawei leak

Gavin Williamson MP
The Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson CBE MP is Member of Parliament for South Staffordshire and was appointed Secretary of State for Defence in November 2017.  On Wednesday 1 May 2019 he was dismissed.

The National Security Council (NSC) met on 23 April 2019 and it appears that one of the matters discussed was the possibility of involvement by the Chinese company Hauwei in the provision of 5G technology in the UK.  On 24 April the Telegraph published a story (£) with the headline - "Theresa May defies security warnings of ministers and US to allow Huawei to help build Britain's 5G network."

It was clear that

Onasanya ~ Recall Petition successful

The Member of Parliament for Peterborough - Fiona Onasanya - has been successfully "recalled" under the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act 2015.   Previous post - 4 February 2019 - Fiona Onasanya MP - 3 months for perverting the course of justice

The Speaker of the House of Commons announced the outcome of the recall petition which will lead to a by-election.   The Petition  was supported by 27.64% of the electorate in the constituency.  The threshold is 10%.

Onasanya narrowly won

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Forensic Science in crisis

Forensic Science is in crisis and must be reformed.  The UK was once regarded as world-leading in forensic science but an absence of high-level leadership, a lack of funding and an insufficient level of research and development now means the UK is lagging behind others.  The forensic science market is not properly regulated creating a state of crisis and a threat to the criminal justice system.

That is the view of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee as set out in its report of 1 May 2019.

Science and Technology Committee Report

There can be no doubt

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Infected Blood Inquiry


The Infected Blood Inquiry, under the Chairmanship of Sir Brian Langstaff has commenced with an Opening Statement from the Chairman, Opening Remarks from Counsel to the Inquiry (Jenni Richards QC) and oral evidence from witnesses.  The Inquiry operates under the Inquiries Act 2005.

The Inquiry was announced by the Prime Minister in 2017 - The Telegraph 11 July 2017.  The Inquiry Terms of Reference were finally issued in September 2018.  The terms are the outcome of a process which included a consultation with interested parties.

The Chairman's opening remarks

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) ~ SB, R [2019] EWCA Crim 565

SB, R [2019] EWCA Crim 565 was an interesting appeal heard in March this year.  SB was convicted of four counts of assault of a child under age 13 by penetration.    The complainant in the case is a teenage girl referred to as M and SB is her grandfather.

A person guilty of this offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.  SB was actually sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and an extended period of 1 year under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.236A.  [Note:  236A was introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 but is not considered further here].

Complaints about

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Abduction of the Shrigley Heiress ~ R v Edward Gibbon Wakefield and others 1827

Wakefield Trial 1827
Deceit and Abduction:

William Turner's family arrived in Blackburn at the beginning of the 19th century and they built a prosperous calico printing mill.  William was the youngest of four sons of the family and was destined to become High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1826 and Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1832 to 1841.   He acquired the Shrigley Estate near Macclesfield and, in 1825, built the present Shrigley Hall - now a country hotel and spa.  Turner's two daughters were Ellen (born 1811) and Mary Jennett (born 1812 - died in 1817).  Ellen was therefore heiress to Turner's considerable wealth.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the son of a farmer and land agent, was born in 1796 in London.  In 1814, aged 18, he entered the diplomatic service and travelled extensively in Europe.   Within two years, he had fallen in love and eloped with Eliza Pattle, a 16-year old heiress and ward of chancery -(see here for wardship today).

Thursday, 18 April 2019

European Parliament Elections - May 2019


The United Kingdom will, almost certainly*, take part in elections to the European Parliament which will be held over 23-26 May 2019.

The European Parliament is directly elected and comprises 751 Members (MEP) who serve for a 5 year term.  The UK has a total of 73 MEP.

Elections in the UK will take place over 12 REGIONS: 9 English regions plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The number of MEP per Region are:

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Legal Aid in the Headlines

"The legal aid system needs to be made fairer in terms of how it funds those who require it.  It's fundamentally flawed."

The law empowers the State to do many draconian things.  We can be imprisoned if convicted of criminal offences or even for non-payment of Council Tax.  Children can be removed from the family by way of care proceedings if the family court finds that they are suffering or are likely to suffer "significant harm" - Children Act 1989 s.31.  UK citizenship may be removed from individuals in certain situations - e.g. the Shamima Begum "Jihadi Bride" case.  Coroners investigate unexplained deaths including those which may have resulted from the conduct of agencies of the State itself.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Assange ~ Arrest and possible extradition to USA


Background:

Wikileaks was founded in 2006 by Mr Julian Assange (born 3 July 1971).  It is an international publishing organisation which came to prominence in 2010 when it published a series of "leaks" provided by Chelsea Manning.  The publications included the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010) and the Iraq war logs (October 2010). 

In November 2010, a Swedish prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Mr Assange alleging that he had committed sexual assaults and rape.  He denied the allegations, and said that they were just a pretext for him to be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Brexit extension - Withdrawal Act 2019 - Exit Day

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019  (the EUWA 2019) received Royal Assent on Monday 8 April.  For the Bill leading to this Act see previous post 3 April.

Section 1(1) of the Act required - a Minister of the Crown to move a motion in the House of Commons in the form set out in subsection (2).  The motion had to be moved on the day on which the Act received Royal Assent or on the day after that day.

The required form of the motion was –

Friday, 5 April 2019

Article 50 Extension to 30 June requested

The Prime Minister, in a letter to the President of the European Council (Mr Donald Tusk), has requested an extension of EU (and Euratom) membership to 30 June 2019.  Article 50(3) permits requests for extension but, for it to take effect, the European Council has to agree unanimously.

A special meeting of the Council had already been scheduled for 10 April.

The letter also states that the UK government

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Queen's Consent

This previous post  tracked the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill which, on 3 April 2019, passed through all of its stages in the House of Commons.  For the Bill and other associated documents see Bills before Parliament 

The proceedings in the House of Commons raised an interesting point which is considered in this post.

Power to request extension:

The Bill requires, as a matter of law, the Prime Minister to move a motion asking the House of Commons to agree to the seeking of an Article 50 extension to a date to be specified in the motion.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Legal controversies arising with Brexit

The United Kingdom's uncodified constitution is capable of producing interesting and potentially difficult legal controversies.

A prime example was the Miller / Dos Santos litigation concerning whether the Prime Minister could, using prerogative power, give the notification under Article 50 TEU to the European Union that the UK had decided to leave.  A majority of the Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament was required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.

Legal power to request extension:

European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill ~ Notes

With updates - (at the end of the post)

The House of Commons will today (3 April) debate a "Business of the House Motion" which, if successful, will permit the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill - (the bill) - to go through all of its House of Commons stages very quickly - by 10pm today.

The Bill is aimed at  requiring, as a matter of law, the Prime Minister to bring a motion to the House of Commons seeking an extension of Article 50 to a date to be specified in the motion.  It would be possible for the Commons to reject the motion.  If the House approved the motion then the PM would be legally required to request an extension to the specified date.

Prime Minister ~ Statement on Brexit 2 April 2019

After a seven hour session of the Cabinet held on 2 April 2019, the Prime Minister made a statement about Brexit - see No. 10 Downing Street - Statement on Brexit.

The PM remained of the view that leaving with a deal was the best solution and a further extension of Article 50 was therefore needed - "one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal."   The PM recognised that

Sunday, 31 March 2019

The week ahead ~ Further indicative votes

1st April - 2230 hrs.  Updated with results

On Friday 29 March the House of Commons rejected (344 to 286) the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, the Joint Instrument and the Unilateral Declaration - (the documents are available HERE).  Under the EU Council Decision of 22 March this rejection has the effect of making Exit Day 12 April but it is open to the UK to seek a way forward.  A further extension of time may therefore arise.

On Wednesday 27 March the House rejected eight indicative vote proposals - previous post 27 March.  Only two of those "came close" to acceptance - a Customs Union (proposed by Kenneth Clarke QC MP but rejected 272 to 264) and a "Confirmatory Public Vote" (rejected 295 to 268).

The coming week

Friday, 29 March 2019

29 March 2019 - the Withdrawal Agreement returns

1500 hrs - Updated with result

29 March 2019 is set to be another momentous day in the House of Commons as the government seeks approval from MPs for the Withdrawal Agreement.

Two years ago, on 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom served notice, under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), that it had decided to leave the European Union (EU) - Article 50 Notice: The end of the beginning (29 March 2017).

Article 50 extended:

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Parliament 27 March 2019

Exit Day:

Exit Day is now 22 May at 11 pm if the House of Commons accepts the withdrawal agreement by 29 March.  Otherwise it is 12 April at 11 pm.


On 27 March 2019, Parliament approved the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Exit Day) (Amendment) Regulations 2019.    These amend the definition of Exit Day in section 20 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.  The outcome is that Exit Day for domestic legal purposes is now the same as that fixed in EU Law by the European Council Decision (EU) 2019/476 of 22 March 2019.

The House of Commons debate resulted with a vote of 441 to 105 in favour of affirming the regulations.  The House of Lords debate concluded with the Regulations being affirmed.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Brexit ~ Indicative Votes 27 March


Updated 28 March with voting results

The UK is now set to leave the EU either on 12 April or 22 May depending on whether the House of Commons rejects or accepts the Withdrawal Agreement.  The House has already rejected the Withdrawal Agreement on two occasions (15 January and 11 March) but it might return for a third time if the Prime Minister thinks it will now be supported.  It is reported that some MPs will vote for the deal  (£) provided that the Prime Minister sets a timetable for her own departure from office!

Rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

House of Commons Monday 25 March 2019

Prime Minister's Statement:

The Prime Minister made a Statement on European Council to the House of Commons and also see Hansard for the debate which immediately followed the statement.

Key points in the Statement -

1.  Council endorsed the legal Instrument relating to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Joint Statement supplementing the Political Declaration.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Brexit ~ Statutory Instruments

A brief note on Statutory Instruments (SI) being churned out in connection with Brexit.

When the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill first saw light of day it was immediately open to the criticism that it contained a far too extensive set of powers to make delegated legislation - previous posts 6 September 2017 and 29 September 2017.

A particular concern was that Ministers could effectively change policy by using these powers and, according to a post by Alexandra Sinclair and Joe Tomlinson published by the UK Constitutional Law Association blog, this concern appears to be manifesting itself.  The authors

Friday, 22 March 2019

EU Council and what might come next

Post updated 23 March

Art 50 - EU Council conclusions:

On 21 March, the European Council responded to the Prime Minister's request (previous post) for an extension, until 30 June, of Article 50.

The Council conclusion was to agree an extension until 22 May 2019 provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons by 29 March at the latest.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Brexit ~ Article 50 Extension requested

Updated 21 March

With just 9 days left to "Exit Day" (29 March), the Prime Minister has sent a letter to the President of the EU Council requesting an extension of Article 50 up to 30 June 2019 - a date which will avoid the UK having to participate in elections to the European Parliament.  The elections take place in May.

The letter has been published on the No. 10 Downing Street website and is reproduced below.

A key sentence in the letter reads:  'I also intend to bring forward further domestic proposals that confirm my previous commitments to protect our internal market, given the concerns expressed about the backstop.'   Those proposals have yet to be announced.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Brexit: "Meaningful Votes" - Extension of Article 50

Only 10 days are left until "Exit Day" - 29 March 2019 (at 11pm).

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 section 13(1) states unequivocally that the Withdrawal Agreement may be ratified only if certain requirements are met.   Section 13 includes a requirement that the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship have been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown. 

MV1 and MV2:

On 15 January, the government failed to obtain the approval of the House of Commons to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and Political Declaration (PD).  This came to be referred to as Meaningful Vote 1 or MV1.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Brexit Votes 12-14 March


' ... Europe's politicians gaze open mouthed at the maelstrom of division and chaos currently whirling through the House of Commons ... two weeks before the official Brexit day - Parliament appears to be in meltdown with no unifying solution in sight' - BBC News 15 March


After a difficult three days in the House of Commons the Brexit position may be summarised as:
  • Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration rejected by the Commons - previous post
  • Exiting the EU without a deal in place also rejected - previous post
  • An extension to Article 50 to be requested whether or not the House of Commons approves the negotiated withdrawal agreement by 20 March.  If it is approved by 20 March then the requested extension would be until 30 June to enable the passing of necessary EU exit legislation.  If it is NOT approved by 20 March then a clear purpose for requesting an extension will be required and any extension beyond 30 June would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019 - see Hansard 14 March UK's withdrawal from the EU and BBC How MPs voted.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Brexit ~ Debates 13 and 14 March

Commons 13 March 2019
12 March - Withdrawal Agreement rejected:

Tuesday 12 March saw the House of Commons reject - essentially for a second time - the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration which the government had negotiated in its efforts to enable the UK to exit the EU on 29 March 2019 with a deal.  The principal objection to the deal was the so-called "backstop" arrangement for Ireland / Northern Ireland and those objections were not overcome by the additional documents of 11 March - The Joint Statement, the UK Declaration, and the Instrument relating to the Withdrawal Agreement - [see HERE for those documents].  The events of 12 March were considered in this previous post.

13 March - Commons rejects "no deal" exit:

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Brexit Debate and Vote ~ 12 March 2019

Attorney General:

Following the discussions with the EU which ended on Monday 11 March, the Attorney General (Geoffrey Cox QC MP) answered questions regarding his revised legal opinion on the Brexit deal and what had been achieved to deal with the issue of the Ireland / Northern Ireland "backstop."  The Attorney's advice is HERE.

Hansard 12 March - Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion

Prime Minister:

The Prime Minister put forward her motion seeking approval of five documents - please see her Statement to the House of Commons + Dept. for Exiting the EU Policy Paper 12 March + previous post.

The House of Commons rejected the motion - Ayes 242 to Noes 391 - a majority of 149 - (i.e. 633 votes in total).  Although amendments had been tabled, none were selected by the Speaker.

How did individual MPs vote? See BBC News 13 March or The New European 12 March.

Hansard 12 March - European Union (Withdrawal) Act

What follows?

Brexit "Meaningful Vote" 12 March 2019

Updated 1120 hrs.

A mere 17 days are left to "Exit Day" - 11 pm on 29 March 2019.  The House of Commons will debate the Prime Minister's motion asking that the House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 the following FIVE documents laid before the House on Monday 11 March 2019:

(1) the negotiated withdrawal agreement titled ‘Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’;

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Hawker Hunter Display Pilot acquitted of Gross Negligence Manslaughter


On 22 August 2015, A Hawker Hunter jet (Registration GBXFI) piloted by Andrew Hill crashed on to the A27 road near Shoreham airfield, West Sussex.  11 people were killed but the pilot, who was thrown clear of the aeroplane,  survived despite suffering considerable injuries.  It was not until 2018 that Mr Hill was charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of the 11 who died.  He was also charged with endangering an aircraft, contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 - The Guardian 21 March 2018.

The accident and AAIB report: