Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:45 pm, 13th March 2017

I am going to move on to the question of the meaningful vote in Lords amendment 2. I remind the House that as recently as December the Prime Minister was refusing to guarantee that Parliament would be able to vote on whatever agreement the Government reach with the European Commission. Under pressure, that position changed early this year, but it was only when Labour tabled an amendment to the Bill in Committee that the Government made a set of commitments on the Floor of the House.

Those commitments, which were set out by the Minister of State and have now been repeated by the Secretary of State, are, first, that Parliament would be able to vote on the final draft agreement; secondly, that Parliament would get a vote not just on the so-called divorce settlement—the article 50 agreement—but also on the agreement on the future relationship with the European Union; and, thirdly, that the votes in this Parliament would take place before any votes in the European Parliament. Lords amendment 2 will simply put those commitments into the Bill, which is why it is so wrong for the Government not to accept it in principle.