A simple and important Bill

A BILL TO

Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

(1) The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

(2) This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

2 Short title

This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.

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50 Comments

  1. ian wragg
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Article 127. Surely this is for members of the EEA. Full members of the EU as we are will automatically leave the EEA when we leave the EU.
    Why are individuals allowed to waste time and money on these actions.
    Didn’t they understand the government leaflet sent to every household that leave means leaving all the component parts.

  2. Mick
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I know it’s short but can it still be held up or blocked in anyway by the remainers , hopefully it does get the free passage through parliament is there any chance of Mrs May not waiting till the end of march but do it straight after the vote thereby stopping any chance of a court or member of the public or MPs action to stop it, because i don’t think I’m on my own being worried that someone will try and put a spanner in the works to stop iy

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    No mention of the Single Market.

    Because there never had to be in the first place !

  4. margaret
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Dennis Cooper has cited an article in the Guardian where written is that this succinct approach may be seen as arrogant . It needs to be brief and to the point . Waffle for waffles sake is out of touch with the real world.

    • getahead
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure The Guardian has to find fault. Saying it is arrogant is quite mild considering the Grauniad is screamingly pro-EU, like its BBC mouthpiece.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Indeed the BBC, the Guardian, the state sector and most MPs are wrong on every major issue.

  5. Mark B
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Great !

    Now how long do you think we will actually be able to invoke it, Mr. Redwood MP sir ?

    And do not give me the standard answer – the end of March.

    We all know that it has far to go and I for one will not believe it until the letter is finally issued and 2 year countdown begins.

  6. ChrisS
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Well, at last Mrs May is really getting on with it.

    Unfortunately the usual suspects are determined to frustrate the decision of the people, hiding behind the entirely fraudulent argument about us leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. Everyone posting here has known that this was inevitable from the moment that the result was announced.

    Ken Clarke, Soubry, Clegg, that Tim Bloke and all the Labour Remoaners know equally well that this is the case, yet they are grossly misleading the electorate in pretending otherwise.

    How the SNP can find 60 ammendments to table on this very precise bill beggars belief. It is nothing more than a filibuster.

    Despite these Luddites, I suspect that the bill will successfully negotiate the Commons and the real problems will start in the Lords where the LibDems are grossly over-represented.

    As I said yesterday, Mrs May has an easy way of circumventing the Lords by appointing 100-150 Brexit-supporting Peers. This quick solution will pull the teeth of the opposition parties in the upper house at a stroke.

    Hopefully before the end of March, A50 will have been successfully triggered and we can finally be sure that we really are leaving.

    (198 Words )

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      It’s what the SNP does – invent loads of amendments which they know very well won’t get passed, and then try to use that to convince the Scots that once again their interests are being ignored by the wicked English.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      The Lords is a long running farce of “Government”. Revealing that they did not pick up the inadequacies of the Referendum Bill. Blair blew the reform, Miliband flirted with reform and Corbyn is doing likewise. Cameron made the imbalances worse.
      In a perverse way I hope they do cause mayhem over this bill, maybe it will lead to the abolition of the other place and reduce the cost of rebuilding the Palace of Westminster.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    JR, please can you cast any light upon this part of the Explanatory Notes?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2016-2017/0132/en/17132en07.htm

    “The power that is provided by clause 1(1) applies to withdrawal from the EU. This includes the European Atomic Energy Community (‘Euratom’), as the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 sets out that the term “EU” includes (as the context permits or requires) Euratom (section 3(2)).”

    So does this present context permit or require that “EU” includes Euroatom?

    • hefner
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      It means that the UK will be leaving Euratom (created by the way in 1957), and this casts doubts about the future of the Joint European Torus in Oxfordshire.

      • RomeoSJ
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Who cares anyway? This is missing the wood for the trees! If the Joint European Torus is worth keeping, we’ll find a way to pay for it from what we’ve saved by leaving. That’s the whole point of Brexit, a golden opportunity to reassess our commitments, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      • Mark
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        Given the importance of British scientists and engineering expertise to Euratom ventures, I expect that it won’t take these bright physicists, mathematicians and engineers long to realise that they need to keep their show on the road, and will beg for us to allow that. JET has crucial expertise to allow ITER to work at all.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          I find that Switzerland has some kind of association agreement over Euratom. Whether it’s a good agreement, and whether that would be a way forward for the UK, I can’t say, but it’s a kind of precedent.

        • APL
          Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          Mark: “JET has crucial expertise to allow ITER to work at all.”

          JET is a monumental money hole.

          The UK would do better to build its civil nuclear energy production using molten Thorium salt.

          It works and provides relievedly safe energy with little radioactive by products*.

          *That of course being the primary reason the UK didn’t adopt the Thorium cycle in the ’50s, because it doesn’t lend itself to nuclear bomb production.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper, tks for the link. I think it is a simple statement of fact: leaving the EU means leaving Euratom. However it seems that by mentioning only this consequence of leaving the way is opened for proposals to amend the bill to list all the organisations associated with EU membership, and to identify which UK will automatically leave, which are open to non-EU states and which it intends to rejoin or in which to seek participation. There are many and it is true that most people don’t know the answer so it would help future debate to know.

      I have asked John Redwood in another comment to explain how by making a bill simple and short helps to avoid obstructive, diluting and confusing amendments.

    • stred
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Could JR explain why some legal draughtsman has decided to add this clause withdrawing from Euratom, when there is no reason to withdraw and no mention has been made of the need to withdraw in the HoC? Could it be another case of lawyers adding their own version in order to complicate matters and delay, as they did in the advice notes on the referendum, by adding that it was advisory and giving the High Court evidence to rule against the government? Are these clerks allowed to do whatever they wish or have they consulted ministers?

  8. David B
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Now that there is a potential challenge to us leaving the EEA why didn’t the bill include provision to leave it.

    Reply Because we are only members as we are members of the EU. We are not a named separate member of the EEA

    • ian wragg
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Do the Supreme Court judges know that?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Well, the UK is a named separate member, one of the 32 Contracting Parties listed at the start of the EEA Agreement here:

      http://www.efta.int/media/documents/legal-texts/eea/the-eea-agreement/Main%20Text%20of%20the%20Agreement/EEAagreement.pdf

      But it is a member of the EEA on the premise that it is a member of the EU.

      There are 3 sovereign states listed as members of EFTA, and 28 listed as members of the EU, plus there is the EU, or EC as it is still described in the agreement.

      Clearly when the UK ceases to be a member state of the EU that will be such a fundamental change of circumstances that the 32 parties will need to consider beforehand what should be done about it.

      It might be possible to agree that for the time being the EEA arrangements will just carry on as if the UK was still in the EU, but not forever.

      There will be the question of whether the UK should just move over from the EU group to the EFTA group, which incidentally would also need the agreement of Switzerland as the other ETFA member state, not in the EEA.

      Conceivably the EEA agreement could be restructured to have the UK as the sole representative of a new third group of contracting parties, EEA states which are neither in the EU nor in EFTA, but that does seem rather unlikely.

      With alternative outcomes available, at least in principle, can it be said with any certainty that the UK will automatically leave the EEA at the same time as it leaves the EU, as the government lawyers apparently assume?

      • Mark
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        They don’t have to. Article 126 says that the agreement holds sway in Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein and the EU (excluding the Alund Islands). Once we are out of the EU, it no longer really applies. We will of course seek separate arrangements with Norway in particular.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but that Article 126 could be amended if all the contracting parties agreed to do that. Oh, and I suppose that it would also need the permission of the EU Parliament. There could be a “diplomatic conference”, as it is put in Article 127 of the EEA Agreement, “in order to envisage the necessary modifications to bring to the Agreement”, but with all the present parties rather than all the present parties except the UK.

          This is why I think Article 127 on the withdrawal of a contracting party from the EEA will most likely prove to be irrelevant, because once the UK has put in its Article 50 notice that it is leaving the EU the only rational course will be to initiate an EEA “diplomatic conference” to decide what should be done about the EEA in the light of that development.

    • Chris
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply:
      I want to be reassured that we are definitely leaving the EEA, which is what I understood when I voted to leave the EU.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        I am not even convinced that we will end up even leaving the EU yet. Given the make up of the Commons and Lords then how is the bill in 2+ years time going to fair? Shortly before an election too.

        Theresa does not inspire confidence so far.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        I’m with you and Dave B. So much of the Remainers’ position is about defending our membership of the EEA. “We did not vote to leave the single market – it was not mentioned on the ballot slip.”

      • Mark B
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        We voted to leave the EU not the EEA. But I accept that we may have to leave both.

  9. acorn
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    With a hat-tip to Gerald Kaufman MP, from back in 1983. This Bill is probably the shortest economic suicide note in history. Forgive them Lord for Brexiteers know not what they do.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Why take the time to write such nonsense?

    • DaveM
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Acorn,

      I’d say self-harm at a pinch. The alternative would be legal, parliamentary, cultural, and eventually national suicide.

      There’s still plenty of time for you to move to one of the EU countries that have benefited economically from EU membership and membership of the Euro. There’s Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, even Ireland. Of course, thanks to Merkel’s immigration policy , most of those countries will be unrecognisable in 50 years (if they exist at all). The EU’s ham-fisted clueless foreign policy also pretty much rules out the new eastern European members as well.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Member countries will still be around, they need the facade.

        As to their make-up, well, let’s say that those who live in greenhouses should not throw stones.

        There will be some level of economic disruption. But all this depends on people seeing sense.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      acorn

      Total cobblers… you are another one with no knowledge or ability at business or trade.

      Your wishful thinking will be overturned by those of us that actually do things

  10. SimonRo
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    It should be time limited to this parliament. If, for whatever reason (outbreak of war, whatever) Theresa May does not trigger article 50, I do not want the power to remain with the Prime Minister in perpetuity.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Let us hope the plan works.

    Problem is we have serial complainers, so we need to get on with this quickly.

    Take a leaf out of Trumps book, a moving target is less easy to hit, as you are usually one step ahead.

  12. John
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    What superb and most delightful wording did ever present itself before the eyes of a democratic Brit in recent generations!

    Fantastic!!

  13. Freeborn John
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Words that bring joy to those who read them.

    Thank-you for everything you have done over many years to bring about great moments in our history such as the passing of this Bill.

  14. Rk
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Two things I find interesting:

    1. This is not a bill to invoke A50… It is a bill to give the power to do so to the prime minister. So raises the possibility TM may delay for a time?

    2. Doesn’t say anything about ability to reverse… I understand people are still arguing about whether this revocable… But if it turns out that it is… The PM won’t be able to do it… Would require another parliamentary vote presumably.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      I don’t know but I suppose the limited scope will enable MPs to argue against expanding it or making it more specific. But I admit I don’t see how. There is no reason for MPs to be reasonable. Perhaps it enables Mrs May to avoid questions like “when?” because it is only about the power to invoke Article 50 rather than actually exercising that power. Good debating point in a scholarly institution but this is a brawl in a public house.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Surely the PM would still be able to serve the Article 50 TEU notice even if it was legally and politically possible to revoke it later, which I very much doubt. Why should its reversibility prevent her from sending it in, once she has the necessary (further) authorisation from Parliament that this Bill will provide? If any new authorisation was required then it would be authorisation to rescind it.

  15. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Splendid. I am not familiar with parliamentary procedure although I have read “The Passage of a Bill” at http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/

    The need to keep this bill short and simple has been emphasised in order to avoid complicating and obstructive amendments. I fail to see how, since the debates (committee of the whole Commons) allow any addition to be proposed and debated.

    Would John Redwood please explain how sabotage can be prevented – if that can be done without alerting opponents?

    • matthu
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Because debate will be time-limited?

      Any single proposed amendments might take too long to debate, and at the end of time there will be a vote on the bill as it stands.

  16. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I expect John Redwood drafted this himself. Civil servants and EU bureaucrats would probably need at least 10 pages. I hope this sets an example of the style of Brexit agreement we need: big simple points, desired end-points after fixed timescales and that’s it, Britain is no longer a member of the EU, full stop but is actively filling in the details of a new relationship “with our European partners”, as they say.

    • Chris
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      This is something that Trump can teach Theresa May. His actions this week with his Executive Orders, bold and to the point, have been a joy to behold.

  17. Old Albion
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    So why does our puppet parliament ‘need’ five days to debate it !!

  18. David Price
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Short and to the point. For all the obfuscation and complexity the legal profession loves to throw in the way this is elegantly straightforward. Hopefully as simple as turning the key in a lock and throwing away the key.

  19. Antisthenes
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    If all the Conservatives minus Ken Clark of course vote for this bill plus the leavers in other parties then amendments can be voted down and the bill will pass without too much difficulty. The Lords is another matter that is a great unknown and the arithmetic there is not on the governments side. I believe T May should make it clear that if the bill is defeated or amended too much she will call an election. Threatening that many remain MPs will lose their seats and the Lords facing considerable reform.

  20. Narrow shoulders
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy Corbyn has indicated there will be a three line whip for Labour MPs to vote for Article 50.

    A more astute political move would have been for him to whip his MPs to vote the way their constituency voted in the referendum. This shows empathy with the electorate while still ensuring the the legislation passes.

    It also puts pressure on the Conservatives, would Prime Minister May suggest to Mr Redwood that he votes with his constituents?

    Mr Corbyn has missed a trick here ( Tim Farron and Nick Clegg would have to vote for too under this method).

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    I suspect that the first stage of a long running constitutional crisis is imminent. The Lords will filibuster the Bill, led by Lord Kinnoch.

    Her Majesty must be persuaded to appoint 500 Eurosceptic peers, all under 60, and to reduce the compulsory retirement age to 70. Go to it.

  22. J.White
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    MPs should not even be voting how their constituents voted. It was not a general election it was a Whole UK referendum. The democratic result was leave and all MPs should accept that and vote accordingly regardless of their own personal feelings or those of their constituents . That’s democracy!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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