Britain’s former first parliamentary counsel says MPs are not being side-lined despite the arguments about processby Stephen Laws / October 23, 2018 / Leave a comment
There are some recurring themes in the Brexit process. One of them is the accusation that the government is seeking to deny parliament its proper say.
This accusation resurfaced again last week following a government memorandum to the House of Commons Procedure Committee. The Committee is considering what procedure should be followed when the Commons votes on whether to approve any withdrawal deal agreed with the EU. It had asked the government for its views on the matter and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab provided the memorandum in reply.
The controversy about the memorandum revives tensions between different understandings of the function of the “meaningful vote” that MPs were promised on the withdrawal deal. The tensions have been aggravated by the fact that, during the passage of the Bill for what became the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, that promise was turned into a legal requirement. Doing so has added a legal dimension to an issue that might better have been left to politics.
Section 13 of the Act sets out various requirements that must be satisfied before the government can “ratify” any agreed withdrawal deal. One is that the Commons must agree to a resolution approving both the deal and an agreed framework for the future relationship. Another is that parliament must have passed an Act…