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:

Friday 8 March 2019

Questions to Law Officers 7 March 2019

Geoffrey Cox QC MP
The Law Officers for England and Wales are the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.  On Thursday 7 March they answered questions from MPs.  These exchanges may be read in Hansard:

The office of Attorney General can be traced back to the 13th century - List of Attorneys General.  The Attorney General is the principal legal adviser of the Crown and its government in England and Wales.  The office of Solicitor General also has a considerable legal history and is traceable back to at least the 15th century - List of Solicitors General.

Thursday 7 March 2019

Rt. Hon. Karen Bradley MP and Northern Ireland Legacy issues

Updated 14 March 2019

Rt. Hon Karen Bradley MP is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with overall responsibility for the Northern Ireland Office.  The post leads on political stability and relations with the Northern Ireland Executive, National security and counter-terrorism, Implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements including legacy of the past.

Given the long history of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland ("The Troubles"), the post clearly requires a high degree of political sensitivity.  There are numerous legacy issues to be addressed including the on-going aftermath of what came to be known as "Bloody Sunday" on 30 January 1972 when the Army shot 28 civilians.  13 were killed outright and one more died of his injuries at a later date.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

24 days to Brexit ~ a brief roundup

UPDATE 7 March - BBC News - Brexit: UK urged to table 'acceptable' backstop remedies

The UK has been urged to table fresh proposals within the next 48 hours to break the Brexit impasse.   EU officials said they would work non-stop over the weekend if "acceptable" ideas were received by Friday to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop.

A proposal for an "Implementation Protocol" has been put forward by Professor K A Armstrong (Professor of European Law, Cambridge - HERE.   The Protocol would be an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement and would act as a legal bridge between the legal text of the Agreement and the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the Union and the UK.

A look at some of the Brexit news and stories ....

24 days to "Exit Day."

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 section 20 defines "Exit Day" as 29 March 2019 at 11pm.  The legislation also provides that a Minister of the Crown may by Regulations amend the definition of Exit Day but the Regulations have to be approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament.