Government’s Breakneck Timetable for Brexit Bill

Even though it feels like it has been dragging on forever the legislative pace for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is quite compressed. Recently resigned former Downing Street Director of Legislative Affairs, Nikki da Costa, has written an eviscerating thread running through the incredibly tight timetable the Government faces.

“Supposing the deal passes, you then introduce the WAB [Withdrawal Agreement Bill] straight away. And supposing you use EU Withdrawal Act as a template for how much time for scrutiny – then you need 13 days in the Commons and close to 20 in the Lords and 4 in ping-pong. 37 days.

Not including Fridays by my count from 21 January, and if you still allow for a February recess, there are only 36 sitting days.”

The later the Government leaves the meaningful vote, the less scrutiny there will be on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Today Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the meaningful vote will not happen until next year!

On top of this, the deadline could be squeezed even further, as 21st January is only the deadline in law if a deal has not been reached, and the Government told the House on 26 November that a deal has been reached.  We are heading towards historically low scrutiny on an historically important Bill…

So when will the deal return to the Commons?

21 January is the deadline in law when if no deal has yet been reached, the government must within 5 days of that date, make a statement – that’s 26 January. And there needs to be a vote within 5 sitting days – that’s 27 January. There’s some debate as to whether legally this is still triggered now there is a deal, but politically 21 January has taken root as an expectation on government.

Supposing the deal passes, you then introduce the WAB [Withdrawal Agreement Bill] straight away. And supposing you use EU Withdrawal Act as a template for how much time for scrutiny – then you need 13 days in the Commons and close to 20 in the Lords and 4 in ping-pong. 37 days.

Not including Fridays by my count from 21 January, and if you still allow for a February recess, there are only 36 sitting days. So scrutiny time is now going to be squeezed even if you take every stage back to back.

And doing all of that – as people speculate and I fear – with votes that are not your own party’s means you will be very vulnerable to amendments and additional ‘asks’. If any of those borrowed MPs say ‘Oh we’d like you to do X’, then you had better do it or lose support.

And while all of this happens there is no time for any other legislation. Which means that the time next week and the first two weeks back really do need to be used. The Finance Bill and the Healthcare (Int arrangements) Bill in particular need time. Or will votes be avoided?


Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 020 7193 4041
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Peter Mandelson tells Emma Barnett…

“I think that Jeremy Corbyn himself should search his conscience and ask himself whether he’s the best person to lead the Labour Party into the general election with the best chance of success for the party.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.