Parliament Legislates To Avoid No Deal Brexit

A cross-party bill, sponsored by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative Oliver Letwin, has passed through the commons (by a majority of just one vote) and been fast-tracked through the Lords meaning that it could make the statute book as early as Monday night (in principle). Unlike previous votes, this is legislation and is binding on the government, providing it succeeds to gain royal assent.

The Bill does not restrict the PM from seeking any length of extension to the UK’s Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon of its intention to leave the EU, but it would mean that parliament would have to approve it after the fact. Parliament has no ability to compel the EU to grant any extension beyond the current delay (12/4/19). The EU has made it clear that in order for a further extension to be granted, the UK has to have a clear plan of action which will justify any further extension. If any one EU state were to object to the extension, it would be denied as it requires the unanimous blessing of the bloc.

The request of the UK government for a further extension will be made at an emergency EU summit just days before the UK is set to crash out of the bloc (should this happen, there is no transitional period and the UK faces a “cliff edge” exit where regulations/laws lapse from one day to the next, unless covered by EU no deal planning). If an extension is denied, the UK’s only course of action to avoid the “no deal” exit that parliament has voted to prevent would be for the UK to revoke its A50 notice.

If the UK remains as a member of the EU after 22/5/19, it will be obliged to participate in the elections for the European Parliament.

Talks continue between Labour and the government over ways to find a Brexit compromise that both can live with. It seems unlikely that any breakthrough is imminent, but it is stated that the government is working on a written draft proposal to Labour which would concede that parliament would be able to vote on giving the public a further referendum on any final deal (this what the Kyle/Wilson/Beckett amendment). If this is the case, the prospect of a further referendum would certainly make it more likely that the EU would grant a further extension.

Dr. Mike Campbell is a British scientist and freelance writer. Mike got his doctorate in Ghent, Belgium and has worked in Belgium, France, Monaco and Austria since leaving the UK. As a writer, he specialises in business, science, medicine and environmental subjects.