Brexit bill: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement? Six key points explained –,

Brexit bill: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement? Six key points explained –,

On Tuesday night, MPs approved the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), the first approval delivered by the House onBrexitsince the referendum. But the Government’s elation was short-lived, as MPs then rejected a motion to push the bill through in three days, prompting the Prime Minister to pause scrutiny of the WAB and wait to hear what the EU has to offer in terms of an extension.

Boris Johnson was forced by law to send a letter to the EU after failing to secure backing for his deal on Saturday, and calls for a three-month extension.

But after the defeat on Tuesday, Downing Street source suggested the Prime Minister would not accept such a lengthy extension.

The source said: “On Saturday, Parliament asked for a delay until January and today Parliament blew its last chance.

“If Parliament’s delay is agreed by Brussels, then the only way the country can move on is with an election. This Parliament is broken. “

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Brexit bill

Brexit bill: On Monday night, the Government published the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB)(Image: Gett / Express)

Brexit bill

Brexit bill: Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier ahead of a debate on the bill(Image: Getty)

So what exactly is the WAB?

The WAB serves to turn the withdrawal agreement – the deal negotiated by the UK and EU – from a draft into law.

The WAB covers some sensitive and controversial topics (enter the Northern Ireland debate), and makes black and white some of the topics previously glossed over or mentioned in soothing political speak.

Now, the precise legal language will be plain for all to see, and with support for the deal split down the House, critics will be hesitant to push it through without proper scrutiny.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said: “If Parliament wants to respect the referendum, it must back the bill. ”

Brexit bill

Brexit bill: The Speaker rejected the Government’s attempt to put the bill to a vote on Monday(Image: PA)

What does the WAB say?

The WAB is a 115 – page document – you can access the Government’s publicationHERE.

Here are six key points set out:

1. Transition period

The transition period after Brexit begins would last until the end of 2020, and can be extended by ministers for up to two more years.

However, while such an extension would require the approval of parliament, the bill gives no provision for MPs to seek an extension.

Clause 1 of the WAB also ensures EU law still applies in the UK during the transition period

In fact, the bill allows for EU law to be retained under UK law, as needed, even at the end of the transition period.

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2. Future relationship

MPs will be given some oversight of the aims for this and must first approve a “statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU”.

3. Citizens’ rights

The bill lays out the rights of EU nationals, and others from EEA and Efta countries, and the Swiss.

One new provision is a new body called the independent monitoring authority (IMA), for *** nationals to lodge complaints about their treatment at the hands of the Government.

Rights will remain the same during transition.

4. Workers’ rights

The bill sets out the already- announced principle that rights which currently come from EU law, such as the working time directive, will still have effect in UK law.

In the longer term, the bill makes vague commitments to “non-regression” – that the position on workers’ rights at the end of the transition period will not be reduced in later laws.

Brexit bill

Brexit bill: This type of process usually takes weeks, if not months(Image: Express)

5. Northern Ireland

There are numerous paragraphs in the bill setting out arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The concession by Mr Johnson that it would remain subject to the EU customs regime is in there, a move which arguably won the PM the deal, but which lost him the support of the DUP and could see it all fall apart.

The explanatory notes say the bill “provides arrangements that ensure that the UK (including Northern Ireland) does not remain in a customs union with the European Union ”.

This will be officially true in law, if not completely in practice.

6. Divorce bill

The amount the UK will need to pay was essentially omitted, referred to in blank legal language.

The bill says: “Any sum that is required to be paid to the EU or an EU entity to meet any obligation that the United Kingdom has by virtue of the withdrawal agreement is to be charged on and paid out of the consolidated fund or, if the Treasury so decides, the national loans fund. ”

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