The House of Commons Order paper for Monday contains two different elements of the Government’s attempt to bulldoze the draft Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament.
The first is a repeat of the motion tabled on Saturday, which was amended by the Letwin Amendment as the House of Commons withheld approval of the draft Withdrawal Agreement until the enabling legislation had been debated and enacted.
In accordance with normal convention, it is quite possible that the Speaker will refuse this, as another presentation of a motion that is substantially the same is not usually permitted.
The second is the First Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. There will be no debate on this, as the First Reading is in effect just reading it into the record. The debates will take place over subsequent days as the Bill passes through the Second Reading, Committee Stage (almost certainly a Committee of the whole House), 3rd Reading before being passed to the House of Lords.
It seems possible that the Second Reading may take place on Tuesday. However the substantive debate will be during the Committee Stage, when the clauses and amendments will be debated in detail.
The Commons will also need to pass a timetable motion on the EU (WA) Bill, allocating time for debate at the various stages. Undoubtedly the Government will try and reduce the available time as much as possible.
All of this may be very confusing for EU27 politicians. Having seen the Benn Bill passed into law by Parliament in the space of a couple of days why can’t the EU (WA) Bill be passed into law in a similar amount of time?
There are several reasons:
- The Benn Bill was a very simple bill focusing on a very specific procedural issue;
- There was a substantial consensus in both the Commons and the Lords to have it passed;
- The EU (WA) Bill affects not only a substantial body of law (not just that resulting from the UK’s membership of the EU) and determines the direction of travel for the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world for the foreseeable future;
- Even if everybody agreed that the UK should leave the EU there is no clear vision of what that actually means.
With the limited number of sitting days available to Parliament between now and 31st October, it is very likely that there is not enough Parliamentary time to pass the necessary legislation. This is largely because of the time the Government has wasted in its unlawful prorogation of Parliament and then the nonsensical prorogation before the Queen’s Speech on 14th.
This is something the Government clearly inflicted on itself, and on the nation, in pursuit of its attempt to force through a Boris-Johnson-centric Brexit by stealth and deception, instead of seeking consensus and agreement to unite the nation.
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.