Retaining Enhanced Protection

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 17th January 2018.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham East 2:15 pm, 17th January 2018

It might be my intention to give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I might change my mind by the time I get there. I can walk towards a Division Lobby while thinking that it is my intention to vote for a particular issue, but I might change my mind at the last minute. We are all able to change our minds. That is the nature of life, and we can all do the same in a dynamic democracy and Parliament.

Article 50 says that treaties shall cease to apply from

“the date of…
the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification”,

but we will have left only after those events. Article 50 is of course silent on what happens during the two-year interim period before the agreement. We are still full members of the European Union, prior to the withdrawal agreement or the expiry of the two-year period, so it stands to reason that we should continue to act as such. The framers of article 50, who include Lord Kerr, said that a “request readmission after negotiation” clause was not necessary because that was taken as read. That is how the 1969 Vienna convention on the law of treaties operates, and it is accepted by many jurisdictions around the world. Article 68 of the Vienna convention states:

“A notification or instrument…
may be revoked at any time before it takes effect.”

That is the widely understood nature of such treaties.