Giving Parliament the Final Say

As anyone reading this post will know, the House of Lords is considering various proposed amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

One amendment – that would give Parliament the right to approve (or implicitly reject) the deal concluded by the Government – seems to be acquiring proper momentum. Overnight The Sun reported a Cabinet minister saying:

“At the end of the day, Parliament is sovereign. We have to take MPs with us on Brexit.

“If we don’t either they will force us, or the courts will. That is now becoming clear”.

The leading amendments appear to be those proposed by Hayter/ Lennie/Hannay/Pannic and Lester/Jones/Kennedy. You can read both here but they provide (respectively):



It is possible – indeed it may well be likely – that there are nuances I am missing but neither seems to me to be perfect. What follows is my redraft and extension of the Lester/Jones/Kennedy amendment.

I offer it in the hope that the good men and women of the blogosphere will improve it further (in the comments section). Please: tell me where I’ve messed it up – or where it could be improved.

Parliamentary consent to the final terms of withdrawal from the European Union 

(1)           The United Kingdom may not withdraw from the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty until—

(a)   where a Minister of the Crown proposes to conclude with the European Union an agreement setting out the arrangements for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union; or

(b)   where no withdrawal agreement falling within paragraph (a) has been concluded with the European Union,

an Act of Parliament has been passed approving the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

(2)             No Minister of the Crown may conclude with the European Union any separate agreement pertaining to the future political or economic relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union until an Act of Parliament has been passed approving that separate agreement.

(3)             Pursuant to subsection (1) above the Prime Minister must, within 18 months of the Government’s notification under section 1 of this Act, place before the House of Commons a draft Bill.

(4)             Subsection (3) shall not apply where the Prime Minister has previously obtained the unanimous agreement of the European Council to extend the period of two years referred to in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union. On such an event the 18 month period referred to in subsection (3) shall be replaced by such period from the notification as the European Council has unanimously agreed less six months.

All three of the suggested amendments assume that the UK is able – whether through (a) having obtained the unanimous agreement of the other Member States or (b) because legally it can just decide it wants to or (c) (possibly) because this is what its constitution requires – to revoke the notification.