Attempts to amend the Bill failed - see Parliament 7 January - Brexit Bill enters Committee Stage. On 9 January, the unamended Bill passed its Third Reading (330 votes to 231) and will next be considered by the House of Lords - see Parliament - Lords debates the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. Consideration of amendments is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 22 January. Royal Assent will follow and the way will then be clear for the UK government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament is scheduled to deal with ratification on 29 January. Once the Agreement is ratified by both the UK and the EU it will become a treaty binding in international law.
The House of Lords EU Select Committee
has published a report - Brexit: revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. The report analyses the revised UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, and the accompanying Political Declaration setting out the framework for future UK-EU relations, which were presented to Parliament on 19 October 2019. The report outlines, in turn, the withdrawal provisions, the transition provisions, the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the Political Declaration on future relations. The report seeks to provide dispassionate analysis, to assist parliamentary and public debate, drawing on the 44 Brexit-related reports published by the Committee since the 2016 referendum.
The Scottish Parliament refused to give consent to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Scotland continues to be deeply opposed to Brexit and will undoubtedly continue to press for an independence referendum which, at least so far, the government is steadfastly refusing.
Detailed negotiations about the future relationship will commence once the UK leaves the EU on 31 January. The UK government has set its face against any extension of the transition period. A glimpse at how matters may proceed after Brexit was offered by Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EU Commission) who spoke at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The speech, entitled "Old friends, new beginnings: building another future for the EU-UK partnership" may be viewed via the EU Commission Audiovisual Service. After the speech, the President met with the Prime Minister and made it clear that the EU, fully respecting the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the EU, will negotiate in good faith, in the framework of the Political Declaration, with the aim of achieving the best possible outcome. However, the limited time available will make it necessary to prioritise the matters to be addressed.
Speaking in Stockholm, Michel Barnier (EU Chief Negotiator) also referred to the need to prioritise the matters for negotiation. The speech may be read via the EU Commission website.
Several previous posts have noted the extensive powers given to Ministers to make delegated legislation. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is no exception. An interesting article by Alexandra Sinclair and Joe Tomlinson examines this issue and points to a number of matters of concern - Constitutional Law 9 January - Brexit Delegated Legislation: Problematic results. The authors comment that from the powers granted to the executive in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 "a tidal wave of delegated legislation" has emerged —currently totalling around 620 statutory instruments (SIs)—with the general purpose of facilitating the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU.
*** LINKS ***Ratification:
Hansard: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill:
7 January - HoC - Hansard debates 7 January 2020
8 January - HoC - Hansard debates 8 January 2020
and see Parliament - Brexit Bill enters committee stage
9 January - HoC -Third reading- Hansard 9 January 2020
Speech by Winston Churchill 1946 - referred to by President von der Leyen:
"United States of Europe" - where Churchill spoke of the need for European nation States to cooperate
EU Green Deal - referred to by President von der Leyen:
Europa - European Green Deal
Politico - The Commission's Green Deal Plan Unveiled