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 –

“That this House agrees for the purposes of section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 to the Prime Minister seeking an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union to a period ending on […]”

The motion was duly presented to the House of Commons on 9 April with 30 June 2019 inserted in the place where the brackets are.  The motion was passed 420 votes to 110 - see Hansard 9 April.

European Council:

On 5 April and before the EUWA 2019 became law, the Prime Minister had contacted the President of the EU Council to seek an extension of Article 50 to 30 June - previous post 5 April.

The European Council met on Wednesday 10 April and granted an extension for a flexible period but no later than 31 October 2019 - read the Council Conclusions.

Council agreed to an extension to allow for ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.  "Such an extension should last only as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October 2019. If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by both parties before this date, the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the following month."

If the UK is still a Member of the EU on 23-26 May 2019 and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, it must hold the elections to the European Parliament in accordance with Union law. If the United Kingdom fails to live up to this obligation, the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019.

There can be no opening of the Withdrawal Agreement and the extension cannot be used to start negotiations on the future relationship.  "However, if the position of the United Kingdom were to evolve, the European Council is prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship in accordance with the positions and principles stated in its guidelines and statements, including as regards the territorial scope of the future relationship."

During the extension, the UK remains a Member State with full rights and obligations in accordance with Article 50 TEU, and the UK has a right to revoke its notification at any time. 

The European Council will remain seized of the matter and will review progress at its meeting in June 2019. 


A statutory Instrument was made to define "Exit Day" in domestic law as 31 October 2019 at 11pm - see European Union (Withdrawal) (Exit Day) (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2019.  A further regulation will be required if the date becomes earlier than 31 October.

The EUWA 2019 section 2 amended the procedure required for regulations amending "Exit Day" so that affirmative resolution of both Houses if no longer required.  Regulations are now subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House.


EUWA 2019 section 1(6) states - Nothing in this section prevents a Minister of the Crown from seeking, or agreeing to, an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union otherwise than in accordance with this section provided that the extension cannot end earlier than 22 May 2019.

1 comment:

  1. I do think, especially given it is now some five months since the UK was due to exit the European Union that some consideration should be given to the review action undertaken by Robin Tillbrook. It has merit and, from my old constitutional knowledge may very well, on hearing of Appeal, win.