Published: Fri, January 19, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Brexit: EU Withdrawal Bill clears House of Commons to pass to peers

Brexit: EU Withdrawal Bill clears House of Commons to pass to peers

Members from the Scottish and Welsh parliaments will attend a forum with MPs and peers at the House of Lords later on Thursday, in a meeting created to give representatives the opportunity to discuss key issues ahead of the Withdrawal Bill entering the House of Lords.

"I think neither side, neither the UK Government nor the Scottish Government, wants this to end up in a constitutional conflict and want to find resolution but the ball is firmly in the court of the UK Government at this stage".

His remarks came after an earlier warning from Tory former Cabinet minister Justine Greening, whose first major intervention since returning to the backbenches saw her claim Brexit will "not be sustainable" if it does not work for young people.

Among the amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill defeated by MPs on Wednesday was one which would have written into it the text of the agreement on Northern Ireland reached between Britain and the EU last month.

The bill is only one of several that Prime Minister Theresa May's minority government must pass to prepare Britain for its withdrawal from the European Union in March 2019.

"When they take their place here, they will seek to improve or undo what we have done and make it work for them".

Her speech to the David Hume Institute came after a report from the Scottish Government this week suggested leaving the European Union without a trade deal in place would wipe £12.7 billion a year from Scotland's economy by 2030.

"It would replace current constraints on the National Assembly's legislative competence, which will fall away as a effect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, with a new set of constraints in devolved competences that would be controlled by the United Kingdom government".

Brexit: EU Withdrawal Bill clears House of Commons to pass to peers
Brexit: EU Withdrawal Bill clears House of Commons to pass to peers

Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis said Labour must back the Bill or they would be voting for "chaos".

However, opponents have warned that it risks passing unprecedented powers to the government to rewrite Britain's entire legal and regulatory framework without proper scrutiny.

"We have consistently said there is no prospect of the Welsh Government recommending consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill as it is now drafted".

Labour is expected to oppose this evening's vote, but without a Tory rebellion, it's expected to pass this stage.

It also followed a diplomatic love letter from the European Council President, who insisted that the EU had not had a "change of heart" over Brexit, telling the British: "Our hearts are still open to you".

"At the same time, there needs to be a process for the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise Scottish ministers' decisions before that consent is given".

So while May avoided defeat tonight, the biggest battle for this bill could still lie ahead.

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