The Benn Act

The Benn Act – or the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 – is an Act of Parliament that provides a statutory obligation for the government to prevent a no deal Brexit on 31 October 2019, by requiring in the Prime Minister to ask for an extension of Article 50. The only way this can be avoided is the House of Commons approving a motion on a withdrawal agreement agreed with the European Union by 19 October 2019. The Act sets out the steps that the Prime Minister would need to take to seek this extension.

If the Article 50 process is extended, the Act also creates further obligations for the government to lay reports on the status of negotiations with the EU, which can be voted on by the House of Commons. The Act was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by the Labour MP Hilary Benn. It passed Third Reading in the House of Commons with a majority of 28 (327 votes to 299) and gained Royal Assent on 9 September 2019.

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