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UK invokes Article 50

by Mick 0 Comments

The UK

On the 29 March 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk to notify him of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. The letter was delivered by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s ambassador to the EU.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-letter-to-donald-tusk-triggering-article-50

….
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community.

The letter is 6 pages long and outlines the UK’s approach to negotiations suggesting a number of principles that could be adopted in an attempt to ensure that the negotiations proceed as smoothly as possible:

  1. We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation
  2. We should always put our citizens first
  3. We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement
  4. We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible
  5. We must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland
  6. We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges
  7. We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values

The letter also mentions a White Paper will be released tomorrow (30 March 2017) which will provide details of legislation to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 which gives effect to EU law in the UK. (This legislation is also known as the Great Repeal Bill.)

Theresa May gave a statement on the letter in Parliament details of which can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-commons-statement-on-triggering-article-50

The EU

Donald Tusk responded to the notification letter and mentioned

So, here it is, six pages: the notification from Prime Minister Theresa May, triggering Article 50 and formally starting the
negotiations of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy
day, neither in Brussels, nor in London. After all, most Europeans, including almost half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart. As for me I will not pretend that I am happy today.

….

On Friday I will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the Member States, to be adopted by the European Council on 29 April.

Full details are available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/29-tusk-remarks-uk-notification/

A Statement by the European Council (Art. 50) on the UK notification was also issued.

For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council. These
guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission,
will negotiate with the United Kingdom.

In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty
caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and Member States. Therefore, we will start by
focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as
a close partner.

President Tusk has convened the European Council on 29 April 2017.

Full details are available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/29-euco-50-statement-uk-notification/

What happens next ?

The withdrawal agreement must be negotiated in accordance with Article 218 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Step 1
An extraordinary European Council will be convened by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. (This will happen on 29 April).
The European Council will adopt by consensus a set of guidelines on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. These guidelines will define the overall principles that the EU will pursue during the negotiations based on the common interest of the European Union and of its Member States.

Step 2
After the adoption of the guidelines, the Commission will very quickly present to the Council a recommendation to open the negotiations. This will be agreed by the College of Commissioners, 4 days after the meeting of the European Council.

Step 3
The Council will then need to authorise the start of the negotiations by adopting a set of negotiating directives. They must be adopted by strong qualified majority (72% of the 27 Member States, i.e. 20 Member States representing 65% of the population of the EU27).
Once these directives are adopted, the Union negotiator, as designated by the Council, is mandated to begin negotiations with the withdrawing Member State.

Notification of Withdrawal Bill

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As a result of the decision of the Supreme Court requiring Parliamentary approval to invoke Article 50, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-17 was introduced to Parliament by David Davis on 26 January 2017.

https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2016-2017/0132/17132.pdf

Other documents can be found at

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/europeanunionnotificationofwithdrawal/documents.html

A briefing paper from the House of Commons Library is available at

Full Report: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7884/CBP-7884.pdf

Summary: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7884

The Bill is debated, first in the House of Commons and then in the House of Lords.

House of Commons

1st Reading

The Bill was presented to the House of Commons and given its 1st Reading on Thursday 26 January 2017. This stage is formal and takes place without debate.

2nd Reading

The 2nd Reading of the Bill took place over two days on 31 January and 01 February 2017 when MPs could debate the bill. Usually the second reading of a bill is conducted over a single day, but in this case, the time was extended over 2 days due to the importance of the bill. Parliamentary time was also extended to Midnight on the first day.

Jeremy Corbyn imposed a three-line whip on Labour MPs, directing them to vote for the Bill, because the Shadow Cabinet had agreed not to block Article 50. It is called a three-line whip because the instruction from the Labour Chief Whip is underlined three times, meaning MPs must vote as directed or risk being disciplined.

The Bill passed the 2nd Reading by 498 votes to 114 and proceeded to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration of possible amendments to the Bill.

Committee Stage

The Committee stage took place over 3 days 6th, 7th and 8th of February 2017

There were 175 Amendments to the Bill for consideration by MP’s. Details of these amendments are contained in the following documents:

Amendments – Monday 6th February

Amendments – Tuesday 7th February

Amendments – Wednesday 8th February

None of the amendments were accepted, following a number of votes, and the Bill was passed in its original form.

Report Stage and 3rd Reading

MPs approved the 3rd Reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill on Wednesday (evening) 8 February 2016 by 494 votes to 122, giving a majority of 372.

The Bill was passed to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, possible amendments, and vote.

House of Lords

1st Reading

The Bill passed the 1st reading in the House of Lords on 8 February 2017.

The House of Lords is in recess from 10 February to 20 February

2nd Reading

The 2nd reading of the Bill took place over 2 days, 20th and 21st February 2017.

The 2nd reading of the Bill was completed on 21 February.

Committee Stage

The committee stage of the Bill took place over 2 days 27 February 2017 and 01 March 2017. It was completed on 01 March 2017.

By a vote of 358 to 256, the following amendment was agreed:

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town moved amendment 9B, in clause 1, page 1, line 3, at end to insert:

“( ) Within three months of exercising the power under section 1(1), Ministers of the Crown must bring forward proposals to ensure that citizens of another European Union or European Economic Area country and their family members, who are legally resident in the United Kingdom on the day on which this Act is passed, continue to be treated in the same way with regards to their EU derived-rights and, in the case of residency, their potential to acquire such rights in the future.”

Report Stage and 3rd Reading

Following the Committee Stage, the Report Stage was held on 7 March 2017, the Bill was discussed in a number of sittings and Amendments were agreed.

This was followed by the 3rd reading of the Bill and after further debate, the Bill was returned to the House of Commons with amendments on 7 March 2017.

The suggested amendments are:

Ping Pong

In order for a Bill to become Law, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords must agree on the final wording in the Bill. If the House of Lords suggests amendments should be made, the Bill is passed back to the House of Commons for further debate, to consider those changes.

This process is known as “ping pong“. If the House of Commons agrees to the amendments the Bill passes on to the next stage, otherwise, the House of Commons can reject the amendments or make further changes/additions and pass the Bill back to the House of Lords for further debate. At this stage the House of Lords can accept what the Commons has decided, or offer further amendments and return it to the House of Commons. This process could continue indefinitely but can be limited by the time available for debate.

It is unlikely that the House of Lords will reject a Bill more than once, and the House of Commons has an option to use the Parliament Act to override (and ignore) amendments made by the House of Lords.

http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/parliamentacts/

The Bill was received back in the House of Commons and debated on 13 March 2017. Both amendments were rejected, Amendment 1 by 335 votes to 287 and Amendment 2 by 331 votes to 286, for the following reasons

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment 1 for the following reason—

Because it is not a matter that needs to be dealt with in the Bill.

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment 2 for the following reason—

Because it is not a matter that needs to be dealt with in the Bill.

The Bill was returned to the House of Lords.

After further debate, the House of Lords did not insist on their amendments and the Bill completed its journey through the Houses of Parliament on 13 March 2017.

Royal Assent

This stage is when the Queen formally agrees to make the Bill into an Act of Parliament and becomes Law.

The Bill was granted Royal Assent and announced by the Speaker in the House of Commons on 16 March 2017 who stated:

I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent 1967, that her Majesty has signified her royal assent to the following acts: Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Act 2017, European Union (Notification of withdrawal) Act 2017.

The Prime Minister can now legally begin the formal process of leaving the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (Lisbon Treaty).

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