European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019

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European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act to make provision in connection with the period for negotiations for withdrawing from the European Union.
Introduced byYvette Cooper
Sir Oliver Letwin
(in the Commons) Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (in the Lords)
Territorial extentUnited Kingdom
Dates
Royal assent8 April 2019
Commencement8 April 2019
Other legislation
Relates to
Status: Spent
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted
Part of a series of articles on the
British membership
of the
European Union
UK location in the EU 2016.svg
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom portal
Flag of Europe.svg European Union portal

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019, sometimes referred to as the "Cooper–Letwin Bill", is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that makes provisions for extensions to the period defined under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union related to the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. It was introduced to the House of Commons by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin on 3 April 2019, in an unusual process where the Government of the United Kingdom did not have control over Commons business that day.

Provisions[edit]

Section 1 of the Act requires the Government to allow Parliament to debate a motion to require the prime minister to seek an extension to the period in which the United Kingdom is to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal from the European Union ("Brexit") under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union. The motion must be moved on the day the Act received royal assent or on the next day, so 8 or 9 April 2019. If Parliament passes the motion then the prime minister is legally obliged to comply with it and seek an extension to a date chosen by Parliament (although the extension must still be agreed to by the EU).

Section 2 streamlines the procedure for amending UK law to reflect the new date for "exit day," the date on which the UK is to leave the EU.

Legislative history[edit]

House of Commons First and Second Readings[edit]

The Act was originally introduced to the House of Commons as the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill on 3 April 2019, on a day where some of the normal standing orders of the House were suspended to prevent Government business taking precedence over business that may want to be undertaken by other Members of Parliament. As such, Sir Oliver Letwin tabled a motion which would allow MPs to undertake proceedings on the second, committee, and third reading of the Bill in one day. The motion was passed by one vote.[1][2]

The UK Government opposed the bill at all stages throughout its passing in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.[3] The second reading passed by 5 votes,[4][5] after closing remarks given by Stephen Barclay, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union making clear the Government's opposition to the Bill.

First Reading Second Reading
Ballot → 3 April 2019 Ballot → 3 April 2019
Aye
312 / 634
Aye
315 / 634
No
311 / 634
No
310 / 634
Abstentions
11 / 634
Abstentions
9 / 634
Sources: CommonsVotes[2] Sources: CommonsVotes[5]

House of Commons Committee Stage[edit]

During the committee stage, a number of amendments were tabled for the Bill, of which four went to a Division:[6]

List of Commons amendments to European Union Withdrawal (No. 5) Bill
Amendment Name of proposer Purpose Status
13 Yvette Cooper Technical amendment to correct printing error Agreed[7]
14 Amendment to clarify references to European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 Agreed[8]
20 George Eustice To ensure that the Bill would not permit an extension of the Article 50 period later than 30 June 2019 Not called
21 To remove the requirement for the Prime Minister to put any counter-offer of an Article 50 extension date by the European Union to a debate and vote in Parliament Rejected.[9]
22 Stephen Barclay To ensure that nothing in the Bill could rule out the Government extending Article 50 in a different way Rejected.[10]
1 Anne Main To ensure that the Bill would not permit an extension to the Article 50 period later than 22 May 2019 Rejected.[11]
6 Sir William Cash To ensure that any extension is subject to the agreement of the devolved assemblies Not called
NC4 An additional clause to the Bill that would have prevented Parliament from tabling amendments to any future motion under Section 1 of the Bill that change or suspend the standing orders of the House of Commons Rejected.[12]
NC5 An additional clause to the Bill to ensure that any motion on extension be limited to no later than 22 May 2019 Not called
NC7 An additional clause to the Bill to prevent an extension in the event of the United Kingdom taking part in the 2019 European Parliament election Not called
NC13 Stephen Barclay An additional clause to the Bill to ensure that any date limits in domestic legislation match the Article 50 extension date Agreed[13]
Amendment 21 Amendment 22 Amendment 1 New Clause 4
Ballot → 3 April 2019 Ballot → 3 April 2019 Ballot → 3 April 2019 Ballot → 3 April 2019
Aye
304 / 634
Aye
220 / 634
Aye
123 / 634
Aye
105 / 634
No
313 / 634
No
400 / 634
No
488 / 634
No
509 / 634
Abstentions
17 / 634
Abstentions
14 / 634
Abstentions
23 / 634
Abstentions
20 / 634
Sources: CommonsVotes[9] Sources: CommonsVotes[10] Sources: CommonsVotes[11] Sources: CommonsVotes[12]

House of Commons Third Reading[edit]

As there was no report stage, the House of Commons debated and voted on the third reading of the Bill after the committee stage.

Third Reading
Ballot → 3 April 2019
Aye
313 / 634
No
312 / 634
Abstentions
9 / 634
Sources: CommonsVotes[14]

The bill was accepted on its third reading by a difference of a single vote once again.[15] The approved Cooper-Letwin bill having passed through the House of Commons subsequently passed the following day to the House of Lords.[16]

House of Lords First and Second Readings[edit]

Having passed the House of Commons, the Bill was introduced into the House of Lords by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town the following day, 4 April 2019. The debate on the Bill was preceded by Lady Hayter introducing a motion to compress the process for having the legislation passed into a single day's sitting through the suspension of two of the House's Standing Orders:[17]

  • Standing Order 46 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to allow the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill to be taken through all its stages this day.
  • Standing Order 39 (Order of Business) be dispensed with to enable that Bill to be considered after the motions on Economic Affairs Committee reports in the name of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.

However, a number of Conservative Party peers laid down motions to amend the original business motion, which was regarded as a filibuster attempt, with the tacit approval of the Government, to prevent the Bill passing through the House.[18][19] Despite a total of seven motions put forward to amend Baroness Hayter's original business motion, which had to be debated and voted on, the original motion eventually passed allowing the Bill to be introduced at First Reading and passed to Second Reading the same day.[20]

List of Business motion amendments
Name of proposer Yes No
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean 94 254
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean 123 251
Lord True 122 248
Baroness Noakes 106 234
Viscount Ridley 104 223
Lord Robathan 61 238
Lord Hamilton of Epsom 62 235

However, the Second Reading debate did not begin until after 7.00pm that night, which led it not being able to pass through all stages on the same day, with instead the Bill passing Second Reading to the Committee Stage to be taken up the following Monday.[21]

House of Lords Committee and Report Stages[edit]

Committee Stage began on the afternoon of 8 April 2019 with a total of 8 proposed amendments, but only a single division on whether Clause 2 of the Bill ("Procedure for ensuring domestic legislation matches Article 50 extension") should remain:[22]

List of Lords amendments to European Union Withdrawal (No. 5) Bill
Amendment Name of proposer Purpose Status
1 Lord Rooker To ensure that the House of Commons was able to debate the Bill the next day Agreed[23]
2 To allow a motion extending Article 50 to be tabled on the day after Royal Assent Agreed[23]
3 To allow any Minister rather than just the Prime Minister to move the motion extending Article 50 Agreed[23]
4 Baroness Neville-Rolfe To place a restriction on the date of departure to not later than the end of FY 2019/20 Withdrawn[23]
5 Lord Goldsmith To remove the requirement for a motion to be put to the Commons
in the event that the European Council makes a proposal
Agreed[24]
6 Baroness Deech Not Moved[25]
7 Lord Pannick Any extension to Article 50 cannot end before 22 May 2019,
unless any withdrawal agreement comes into force
Agreed[26]
8 Baroness Noakes The Act ceases to have effect on the day of the UK's exit Withdrawn[27]
Sources: Hansard[28]
Clause 2
Ballot → 8 April 2019
Content
280 / 782
Not Content
46 / 782
Abstentions
456 / 782
Sources: Hansard[29]

Following the Committee Stage, there was an official Report Stage, noting merely that the report on the Bill had been received.[30]

House of Lords Third Reading[edit]

With the Committee and Report Stages completed, the Bill moved to Third Reading, when it was passed without a vote and returned to the House of Commons.[31][32]

Commons vote on Lords amendments and Royal Assent[edit]

Having passed through the House of Lords, the Bill returned to the House of Commons for a vote on the five amendments passed by the Upper House late on 8 April. Amendments 1 and 4 were agreed to, while Amendments 2, 3 and 5 were voted on in a division, as was a new amendment placed by Sir William Cash.

List of Lords amendments to European Union Withdrawal (No. 5) Bill
Amendment Original Lords
Amendment
Purpose Status
1 1 To ensure that the House of Commons was able to debate the Bill the next day Agreed[33]
2 2 To allow a motion extending Article 50 to be tabled on the day after Royal Assent Agreed[33]
3 3 To allow any Minister rather than just the Prime Minister to move the motion extending Article 50 Agreed[33]
4 5 To remove the requirement for a motion to be put to the Commons in the event that the European Council makes a proposal Agreed[33]
5 7 Any extension to Article 50 cannot end before 22 May 2019, unless any withdrawal agreement comes into force Agreed[33]
Amendment (a) to Amendment 5 Any extension to Article 50 cannot end after 22 May 2019, unless any withdrawal agreement comes into force Rejected[33]
Lords Amendments 2 and 3 Amendment (a) to Lords Amendment 5 Lords Amendment 5
Ballot → 8 April 2019 Ballot → 8 April 2019 Ballot → 8 April 2019
Aye
396 / 634
Aye
85 / 634
Aye
390 / 634
No
83 / 634
No
392 / 634
No
81 / 634
Abstentions
155 / 634
Abstentions
157 / 634
Abstentions
163 / 634
Sources: CommonsVotes[34] Sources: CommonsVotes[35] Sources: CommonsVotes[36]

Having been passed by both Houses of Parliament, the bill achieved Royal Assent later that evening.[37][38][39]

Motion under the Act[edit]

On 9 April 2019, the House of Commons debated a motion under the terms of the Act put forward by the Prime Minister, requesting approval for the UK to seek an extension to the Article 50 process to 30 June 2019.[40]

Motion under section 1 to June 30
Ballot → 9 April 2019
Aye
420 / 634
No
110 / 634
Abstentions
104 / 634
Sources: CommonsVotes[41]

This vote passed with a large majority of 310 votes.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MacLellan, Kylie; James, William; MacAskill, Andrew (3 April 2019). "Lawmakers vote to go ahead with debate on Brexit delay law". Reuters.com. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Business of the House motion". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  3. ^ Elgot, Jessica (4 April 2019). "Brexit: bill to prevent no-deal passes Commons by one vote". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  4. ^ MacLellan, Kylie; Piper, Elizabeth; James, William (3 April 2019). "Lawmakers approve first stage of Brexit delay law". Reuters.com. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Second Reading of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 3 April 2019". parliament.uk. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  7. ^ Yvette Cooper (3 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 1192.
  8. ^ Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Chairman of Ways and Means (3 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons: House of Commons. col. 1202.
  9. ^ a b "European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill Committee Amdt 21 - Eustice". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  10. ^ a b "European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill Committee Gov Amdt 22". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  11. ^ a b "European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill Committee Amdt 1 - Main". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  12. ^ a b "European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill Committee NC4 - Cash". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  13. ^ Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Chairman of Ways and Means (3 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons: House of Commons. col. 1207.
  14. ^ "European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill Third Reading". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
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  16. ^ Mance, Henry (5 April 2019). "House of Lords attacks bill aimed at preventing no-deal Brexit". FT.com. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
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  21. ^ Lord Rooker (4 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 380.
  22. ^ "Marshalled List of Amendments to be moved in Committee of the Whole House" (PDF). parliament.uk. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  23. ^ a b c d Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (8 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 393.
  24. ^ Lord Goldsmith (8 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 400.
  25. ^ Baroness Deech (8 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 403.
  26. ^ Lord Pannick (8 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 413.
  27. ^ Baroness Noakes (8 April 2019). "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 423.
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  29. ^ "European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill Division 1". hansard.parliament.uk. Hansard. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  30. ^ "European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill Report Stage". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. 8 April 2019. Part 797:.
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  32. ^ McShane, Asher (8 April 2018). "House of Lords approves Cooper-Letwin bill that would force PM to delay Brexit to avoid no-deal on April 12". Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  33. ^ a b c d e f "Proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments". parliament.uk. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  34. ^ "Motion to agree to Lords Amendments 2 and 3 to the EU (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  35. ^ "Amendment (a) to Lords Amendment 5 to the EU (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
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  38. ^ Elgot, Jessica (8 April 2019). "MPs pass bill to force May to set out timetable for Brexit delay". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  39. ^ Commons, UK House of (8 April 2019). "ROYAL ASSENT: Having been agreed by both Houses of Parliament, the #EUWithdrawal5Bill has now received Royal Assent. A motion under the terms of the European Union Withdrawal (No.5) Act 2019 - on the Article 50 extension to be requested from the EU - will be debated tomorrow".
  40. ^ a b Foster, Matt (9 April 2019). "MPs back Brexit delay bill as Theresa May heads to Berlin to plead for more time". PoliticsHome.com. Dod's Parliamentary Communications. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  41. ^ "Motion under section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019". CommonsVotes.DigiMinister.com. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.