Brexit: complex and lengthy process lies ahead, new report finds

The parliamentary approval process for Brexit is going to be complex and possibly lengthy, a new report by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law finds.

The Brexit Endgame comes out on the day marking six months to Brexit. It leaves the politics to one side and looks at the Brexit process as it will play out in the UK Parliament and the EU.

It is almost certain the deal will not be ratified until 2019. As Article 50 can be extended, the real deadline is 18 April, when the European Parliament breaks up for elections.

UK Parliament:

  • Parliamentarians do not face a simple deal/no deal choice, the report finds.
  • Parliament will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and the future relationship as one package. It will be presented to Parliament (as a motion) after it has been agreed with the EU
  • MPs can make procedural amendments to the motion. Substantive amendments would amount to a rejection.
  • If MPs reject the deal, the government can resubmit an amended version for approval.
  • Once the Brexit motion is passed, Parliament then has to approve a bill turning the Withdrawal Agreement into UK law, giving MPs a second opportunity to reject the deal. Without this bill, the deal will not come into force in the UK or EU.
  • If a deal can’t be reached or it can’t get through Parliament, there are three ways to trigger a general election:
    • if a two-thirds majority of MPs support one;
    • if the government loses a confidence motion and can’t regain the support of the Commons within two weeks;
    • by overturning the FTPA.

European Union

  • Once a deal is reached, the European Commission will recommend it to the European Council which will then pass it to the European Parliament
  • The European Parliament will wait for the UK Parliament to pass the deal
  • If this happens, the deal will go to the EP’s Constitutional Affairs Committee before being voted on by a plenary session of MEPs
  • A simple majority of those present on the day is needed for it to pass
  • Once that happens, the European Council will then vote. The deal will need the support of at least 20 member states representing at least two-thirds of the EU population.

Researchers from The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law wrote two versions of the report – A detailed guide to the parliamentary process of withdrawal from the EU and a short guide.

Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “Given that most attention has been focussed on Brussels, we have tended to overlook the complex processes that await any Brexit deal that is agreed.

“These reports lay out in painstaking and meticulous detail what those processes consist of, and provide a salutary warning that, even should a deal be struck with the EU, the Brexit process will still have a long way to run.”

To coincide with the reports, and to mark six months to Brexit The UK in a Changing Europe has produced an entertaining and informative video, featuring Professor Anand Menon, explaining what will happen regarding Brexit over the next six months. It will available to watch here.

Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

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