Wednesday 9 January 2019

Brexit - Government loses vote on Finance (No 3) Bill

A short post to keep abreast of developments relating to Brexit.

Finance (No. 3) Bill:

The Finance (No.3) Bill had its House of Commons  Report Stage and Third Reading on Tuesday 8 January 2019.  This is hardly the sort of legislation to get the blood racing but an amendment was introduced by MPs anxious to prevent a "no deal" Brexit.   The amendment succeeded (303 to 296) and so, for the first time since 1978, the government lost a vote on a Finance Bill.  The Guardian 8 January 2019 comments - 'The coalition of high-profile MPs behind the amendment are expected to use the victory as a springboard for further parliamentary action to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU.'  See also iNews 8 January.

The amendment was to the rather dull Clause 89 headed "Minor amendments in consequence of EU withdrawal."  It begins - "The Treasury may by regulations make such provision as they consider
appropriate - (a)
for the purpose of maintaining the effect of any relevant tax legislation on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU (and, accordingly, on the United Kingdom ceasing to be an EEA state); ..... etc.

The effect of the amendment is that the power granted by Clause 89 comes into force ONLY if one of 3 conditions comes about - 

(a) House of Commons approves the Withdrawal Agreement and Framework for the Future Relationship, or 

(b) the Prime Minister has notified the President of the European Council, in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, of the UK's request to extend the period in which the Treaties shall still apply to the UK, or 

(c) leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for Future relationship has been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown.

Explanatory notes to the Finance (No 3) Bill are available and contain the following background note regarding Clause 89:

Urgent Question 7 January:

On Monday 7 January an Urgent Question was debated in the House of Commons.  Before Christmas 2018 the government deferred the Parliamentary vote on the Withdrawal Agreement - previous post.  By way of an Urgent Question. the Opposition sought information on what, if anything, had resulted from the government's further discussions with the EU regarding the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Separation Agreement with EEA/EFTA States:

In further Brexit news,  it was announced on 20 December 2018 that the UK government entered into a separation agreement with EEA and EFTAThe EEA EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – and the United Kingdom have reached an agreement on protecting citizens’ rights and resolving separation issues as the UK exits the EU. This agreement largely mirrors the Withdrawal Agreement agreed with the EU in areas relevant under the EEA Agreement. 

Find the UK-EEA EFTA Separation Agreement here.
Read a 13-page explainer of the Separation Agreement here.



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