Commons faces Brexit marathon

07 June 2018

Uphill struggle for May in pushing through EU Withdrawal Bill

MPs are preparing for a marathon session in the House of Commons next week as prime minister Theresa May attempts to overturn all 15 Lords defeats on the Brexit Bill in one single day.

May will try to push the EU (Withdrawal) Bill through the Commons in a 12-hour sitting on Tuesday, despite the Bill taking 20 days to pass through the House of Lords where 15 amendments were made on key areas. Peers voted for Britain to stay in the single market with freedom of movement of people, for the prime minister to report on her effort to secure a customs union, and for a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal.

One MP said privately last week that he thought the PM may be deliberately engineering a showdown with her Brexiteer backbenchers to show them that, even if they get rid of her, they still don’t have the numbers in Parliament for their preferred ‘hard’ version of Brexit.

David Greene, senior partner at Edwin Coe and NLJ columnist, said: ‘The Lords has considered at length and in Committee and on the floor of the House many of the issues that arise from the Withdrawal Bill.

‘It would be disappointing if the Withdrawal Bill is treated simply as a political football by the Commons in the battle between party factions on both sides of the House. The Supreme Court handed power to Parliament in the Article 50 judgment. It did so because the membership of the European Union bestows rights on citizens. It is with those rights that the House of Commons toys.

‘One amendment from the Lords, for instance, relates to the retention of the Charter of Fundamental Rights after Brexit. This is a vital constitutional document providing individual rights that are not otherwise guaranteed. Its retention is all important and deserves proper consideration by the House.’