The bill authorising the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50, enabling the UK to leave the EU, has cleared the Commons. In this post Lords expert, Professor Meg Russell, Director of the UCL Constitution Unit, discusses how the second chamber is likely to treat the bill. She suggests that this illustrates important dynamics between Lords and Commons, which are often disappointingly misunderstood both in the media and inside government.
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is a simple two-clause measure to authorise the government to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union and thereby begin negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU. This follows the ‘Leave’ vote in last June’s referendum, followed by the Supreme Court ruling that parliament’s authorisation was required. A previous blog considered the bill’s likely reception in the Commons, where it completed its initial stages on 8 February. Today the bill begins its consideration in the Lords, where it is due a two-day second reading debate, followed by two-day committee stage next week, and a day spent on remaining stages the week after that.
UCL Professor of EU Law, Piet Eeckhout, examines the role of Parliament in the Brexit process after the Supreme Court judgement, arguing that an alternative reading of Article 50 would offer greater scope for parliamentary oversight and, therefore, a more democratic outcome.
The judiciary has spoken, most clearly. Parliament must authorise the triggering of Article 50, in essence because it failed to spell out the legal effects of the referendum in the EU Referendum Act 2015. If it had done so, the Miller litigation would not have been necessary.
The decision of the Supreme Court that Article 50 TEU cannot be invoked without Parliamentary approval means the Government must consider the form of such an Act without delay, argues Jeff King, Professor of Law at UCL, in a post first published on the UK Constitutional Law Association Blog.
The Supreme Court judgment in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on the morning of 24 January 2017 made it clear that an Act of Parliament is required for a notice under article 50(2) of the Treaty of the European Union. The Government and Opposition should now state their positions clearly on the form of such an Act without delay. So far, there has been little such discussion. This post (originally published on 8 November 2016 and reposted here for convenience) suggests form, content and conditions for such legislation that neither challenge the result of the 23 June 2016 referendum nor the Government’s stated timelines for giving notice.
Following today’s Supreme Court judgement, the focus of attention shifts back to parliament. How long will it take for parliament to pass the necessary legislation? How likely is it that the legislation will be amended? UCL Constitution Unit scholars Robert Hazell and Alan Renwick assess the implications for the Brexit timetable, and the government’s negotiating strategy. This blog was initially posted on the UCL Constitution Unit blog.
What will happen to the government’s timetable?
The government will introduce a short bill, probably just one or two clauses, which it will seek to pass as a matter of urgency. Bills have occasionally been passed through parliament in a few days, or even a few hours. But that can only happen if both chambers recognise the urgency, and support the bill. Crucially, the government would need to get majority support for a timetabling motion in the House of Commons to expedite the process. That might not be forthcoming in a House where three quarters of MPs voted for Remain. (In 2012 Nick Clegg had to abandon his Lords Reform bill after the government lost the timetabling motion following a big Conservative rebellion).