The government’s critical EU Withdrawal Bill, harmonising British law with EU law, which the Prime Minister and her cabinet may then adjust accordingly, passed its second reading last month.
The bill would convert 12,000 EU regulations into domestic law, and grant the government the power to alter these without parliamentary approval, under Henry VIII laws.
Now the focus turns to amendments. As the bill has only passed its ‘second reading’ it is subject to amendments and must be scrutinised before parliamentary committees (for more on this, read the first piece in The Commons series).
Such was the contentious and wide ranging nature of the bill, a large number of amendments have been tabled (136 in total), by opposition party leadership as well as backbenchers.
The parliamentary debate began on Tuesday, and continued yesterday. During that time, 70 of the proposed amendments were defeated, including a proposed veto on law changes for the devolved nations, and an amendment that would have given special protection to workers rights provided by EU law.
The debate will continue for additional six days, with a number of notable amendments yet to be voted on, including an amendment to enshrine the exit day into law, which was proposed by the government and is likely to be defeated.
The Telegraph came under fire on Wednesday for its headline identifying 15 likely Conservative rebels as ‘Brexit mutineers.’ Should the Telegraph’s number be correct, opposition parties should have the necessary margin to pass their amendments, however there are also seven Labour MPs likely to vote with the government, meaning there will likely have to be a few more rebels from the Conservative backbenches.
Overall however, the government has largely stood firm in some difficult votes thus far. Remainers shouldn’t bank on exercising extreme influence on proceedings at committee level, as the band of Tory remainers, staunch though they might appear, have proven largely toothless at Brexit crunch points.
Up in Scotland, interim leader of Scottish Labour Alex Rowley, has stepped down over claims from an ex-partner that he harassed her for three years after the end of their relationship, including through regularly sending abusive messages. He has been suspended and under investigation by the party.
Boris Johnson finally apologised for his comments on the jailed Briton in Iran, Nazanin Ratcliffe Zaghari, and spoke to her husband about the possibility of providing ‘diplomatic protection’ to the 39-year-old mother-of-one. The possibility of paying Iran a £450m historical debt has also been discussed.
At PMQs, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn sparred on a number of topics including Grenfell Tower, universal credit, and cuts to public spending.
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