Withdrawal Agreement Bill Approved
Johnson won a majority in the House of Commons in December and paved the way for the bill to become law before the end of January. After the WAB becomes law, the withdrawal agreement must also be ratified by the European Parliament. If the next steps at Westminster go ahead as planned, the European Parliament is expected to ratify the withdrawal agreement on 29 January, paving the way for the UK to leave the bloc two days later. Ministers say they support the Dubs amendment principle, but the Brexit act is not the right way to do so. South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, one of six Labour MPs who wanted to vote in favour of the bill, said it was time to end “opposition to the opposition.” The House of Lords, which must approve all legislation, tends to pay particular attention to aspects of bills relating to rights and cases relating to the courts, the judiciary and political institutions in the United Kingdom. With different support, the House of Lords on Monday and Tuesday passed five amendments that would give EU citizens the right to remain in the UK without having to ask for that right and give them documentary proof of the law; a second that deprives ministers of the power to decide which decisions of the European Court of Justice could be flouted or overturned; a third, which annulled the independence of the British courts with regard to EU jurisprudence; a fourth, proposed by Lord Alfred Dubs, who arrived from Czechoslovakia in 1939 as a child, fleeing persecution of Jews after the seizure of power in Germany, which would reunite refugee children with their families; and a fifth, which took note of the Sewel Convention, under which Parliament should not legislate on decentralised issues without the agreement of the decentralised institutions. A total of five amendments to the bill have been sent to MPs for consideration by the Lords, including on the rights of EU citizens, the power of British courts to deviate from EU law and the independence of the judiciary after Brexit. On Wednesday, the House of Commons rejected the five amendments by separate votes by a significant majority and sent the original bill back to the House of Lords. It could have started with a parliamentary ping-pong game where other versions of the law went back and forth between the two houses, until they agreed on a version.
But faced with the Conservatives` 80-seat majority in the House of Commons, the House of Lords accepted and approved the bill yesterday in its original form without a vote. Nevertheless, the peers decided not to continue the fight with the Commons and agreed to let the law pass.