Thursday, 3 October 2019

In brief - proposal for new Ireland protocol - Prorogation

Updated 8 October

The British government has put a proposal to the EU Commission for a new protocol for Ireland / Northern Ireland - see UK Government Policy Paper 2 October 2019 where the letter from the Prime Minister to the President of the EU Commission can be seen as well as an Explanatory Note on the proposals.  A "legal text" has been sent to the Article 50 Taskforce.

The Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons 3 October 2019. The Prime Minister said
- "I do not for one moment resile from the fact that we have shown great flexibility in the interests of reaching an accommodation with our European friends and achieving the resolution for which we all yearn. If our European neighbours choose not to show a corresponding willingness to reach a deal, then we shall have to leave on 31 October without an agreement, and we are ready to do so. But that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which all parties would be held responsible."

Early reaction to the proposal has been negative - e.g. RTE 2 October 2019 - and, at the time of writing, it cannot be said that the prospects of this plan being accepted by the EU are good - BBC News 2 October 2019 - The Guardian 2 October.  Nonetheless, hope is still alive that a deal can be reached as a result of further talks between the interested parties.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 imposes certain requirements relating to Brexit on Ministers including duties on the Prime Minister - previous post - but there has been speculation that the government might seek to bypass the Act in order to avoid having to request a further extension to UK membership - e.g. Euronews 27 September.

The 10 Downing Street website announced that the Prime Minister is to seek prorogation of Parliament.  The Supreme Court of the UK ruled that earlier "prorogation" was a nullity - previous post - and the closure of Parliament from the small hours of 10 September to 25 September is now referred to as an adjournment.  The new prorogation proposal is aimed at closing Parliament from the evening of 8 October to 14 October so that preparations can be made for a Queen's Speech on 14 October.  Prorogation will end the 2017 to 2019 session of Parliament.

Friday 4 October 2019:

The UK proposal did not receive outright rejection from the EU but considerable doubt remains about whether agreement will actually be reached - The Guardian 3 October.  The EU Commission President (Jean Claude Juncker) called upon the UK to publish in full the legal text.  The President of the EU Council (Donald Tusk) said the the EU remains "open but unconvinced" - BBC News 4 October.  Mr Tusk was reported to be 'fully behind Ireland' - Irish Times 3 October 2019.

On 3 October, the European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group issued a statement -

Monday 7 October:

It is reported that further talks will be held with a view to seeking agreement - BBC News 7 October and The Guardian 6 October. If agreement is reached at negotiator level then it will be for the European Council to finalise the agreement at its meeting on 17-18 October.   See also European Council - Brexit.

Any withdrawal agreement requires UK Parliamentary approval under the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 section 13.

Tuesday 8 October:

Parliament was prorogued

Privy Council - Orders in Council

Hansard 8 October 2019 - House of Lords Prorogation

The 2017-19 session has therefore ended.  Parliament next meets on 14 October.

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