The European Union (Withdrawal) (No5) Bill

In: Brexit
9th April 2019

What it does:

A Backbench Bill was tabled on April 3 by Yvette Cooper MP and Oliver Letwin MP to attempt to mandate the Prime Minster to extend Article 50 by a period of time requested by Parliament.

That night the House of Commons voted though all stages of this Bill by 313-312 votes.

The Bill is largely procedural in nature, but would allow for an amendable, legally binding, motion to seek an Article 50 extension to be tabled in the House of Commons the day after the Bill gets royal assent.

The length of any extension would be debated, but could be different from any suggested by the government.

If passed, the government would be mandated to request this length of extension.

Despite the Bill becoming law, this motion must pass in order for the Prime Minister to be mandated to request this extension. If Parliament does not pass this motion, then there is still the possibility that no extension will be agreed.

The Bill only requires the PM to seek an extension – any extension, and any new date of withdrawal, would need to be agreed to by the Governments of all 27 other Member States of the EU.

Meanwhile the UK Government and Labour Party leadership continue to meet to see if a cross-party solution can be found to the current impasse.

On Friday morning, the Prime Minister wrote to the EU President to request an extension to the Article 50 period. The Prime Minister requested an extension until June 30, with the option to leave should the Withdrawal Agreement pass the House of Commons and the ratification process completed before this date. This will be discussed at the EU Council meeting on April 10.

What does this mean for business? With just one week to go before the new Brexit deadline of April 12, we have no further clarity about the date of our departure from the EU and the risk of a no deal exit is still a live one.

In case you missed it, you can read Adam’s conference speech expressing business frustration at the ongoing political process.

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