Making social science accessible

11 Mar 2019

Constitution and governance

UK-EU Relations

A new report by the UK in a Changing Europe lays how and where MPs can influence the Brexit process and measures the government could take to get its deal through Parliament.

The report, Brexit votes explained, shows that:

  • MPs have been more effective at winning concessions from the government through negotiations prior to votes (rather than by defeating the government).
  • Typically these victories have been over procedure such as the Cooper-Letwin and Grieve amendments
  • If an extension to Article 50 is agreed, the choice facing the Commons will still remain whether or not to approve the deal in more or less its current form
  • There are a number of concessions the Government could offer to help get the Withdrawal Agreement approved, including:
    • Holding indicative votes on the future relationship
    • Offering MPs a veto over the treaty on the future relationship
    • Giving MPs a veto over the negotiating mandate for the future relationship
    • Committing to a general election once the UK has left the EU
    • Guaranteeing a referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement
    • Promising a super-majority lock on the approach to the future relationship
    • Ensuring MPs have a veto over any extension of the transition period
  • The Government may want to try and fast-track the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to complete the ratification process as quickly as possible (within a matter of days). MPs will have a decisive say over whether or not this happens when they vote on the programme motion setting out the parliamentary timetable for the bill.

The report sets out what affects MPs’ influence and shows that there could be no deal if members of parliament continue to vote against everything.

MPs will play an important role in other parts of the ratification process, such as determining the length of the extension to Article 50, proposing amendments – to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and other motions.


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