The second piece of news from last week was that the government suffered a second defeat in the House of Lords, which voted in favour of an amendment to the Brexit Bill ensuring a “meaningful vote” on the final deal by 366 votes to 268. Both amendments passed by the Lords can be found here. The first thing to say about this is that there is supposedly an 80-90% chance that both amendments will be thrown out in the House of Commons with no trouble whatsoever and that the finalised, unchanged Brexit Bill will likely be ready by Tuesday morning. I still don’t understand why the government won’t vote through the amendment on EU citizens’ rights, as I explained last week. I also don’t really understand what the “meaningful vote” amendment is meant to achieve, although I understand completely the argument against it. The government has already promised that there would be a vote in both houses of Parliament on the final deal, so in the first instance this change would simply enshrine this in legislation and hold them to that promise. The change also states that “The prior approval of both Houses of Parliament shall also be required in relation to any decision by the Prime Minister that the United Kingdom shall leave the European Union without an agreement as to the applicable terms.”, which appears to mean that both Houses would have to vote specifically in favour of leaving with no deal, rather than it being a fall-back. My understanding though is that this would only make a real difference to proceedings if A50 is deemed to be revocable, meaning we can choose cancel Brexit, as it were. The issue of A50s revocability though is not settled and I’m not sure it ever definitively will be. The argument against us even trying to find this out is the same as the one against this amendment: that if we can choose to not Brexit, the EU will have no incentive to give us a decent deal.
The third piece of news from last week is that the Foreign Affairs Committee released a report entitled “Article 50 negotiations: Implications of ‘no deal’”, on which I am preparing a summary and analysis to be uploaded on this site shortly. I’ve been complaining for a while that the government has not released enough information about the realities of the no deal route, and the Foreign Affairs Committee obviously agrees. This is a very welcome release, and a pretty bold and unexpected one given how damning it is to the idea that no deal is better than a bad one. The key conclusions from the report are below. Look out for a bigger analysis by me soon.
For more, find the Last Week in Brexit Podcast on iTunes. Episode 3 coming tomorrow.