The authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations

15 Jan 2019

Constitution and governance

UK-EU Relations

The House of Commons can take control of the Brexit process from the government, a new report detailing the role Parliament might play between now and exit day finds.

The report – Seven Brexit endgame scenarios – by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law looks in detail at how the Brexit process may play out in the UK Parliament following tomorrow’s Brexit vote.

Seven key points it makes are:

  1. If an amendment rejecting the deal passes (eg Hilary Benn’s amendment), the deal won’t be voted on and is rejected outright
  2. If the deal does not pass today, the government has to come back to parliament within three days with a statement setting out what it will do next. Within a week of that statement, there will be a vote on it in the House of Common

i) Amending the government’s business motion setting out the rules for that vote is likely to be the first chance for the Commons to take control over the parliamentary timetable, giving MPs the power to table legislation (eg to enact a second referendum

ii) If the government does not bring forward a business motion, MPs can introduce an amendment on the government’s statement to take control of the parliamentary timetable

  1. If the agreement passes today, it still needs to be incorporated into UK law by an Act of Parliament before 29 March
  2. If there is a vote of confidence in the government and the DUP abstain, it may only require two Conservative MPs to vote against the government for it to pass
  3. Revoking Article 50 requires an act of parliament (it can’t be done overnight as is sometimes assumed). If that happens, we would remain in the EU under current terms
  4. There are two clear and simple ways to avoid no deal: by passing the Withdrawal Agreement and its subsequent Bill, or by revoking Article 50
  5. In the event that a confidence motion is passed, a cross party government could be formed if it can command the support of the House.

Researchers from The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law wrote two versions of the report: Seven Brexit Endgame scenarios – a short guide and Seven Brexit Endgame scenarios – a guide to the parliamentary process of withdrawal from the European Union

Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “Everyone is aware that we are entering unchartered territory. These reports represent the closest thing we have to a roadmap to the uncertain times ahead.”

To coincide with the reports, The UK in a Changing Europe has produced an entertaining and informative video, featuring Professor Anand Menon, explaining why parliamentarians are finding it difficult to deal with Brexit, which is available to watch here.


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