Brexit: What's in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

Oct 22, 2019

Brexit: What's in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

London (UK) Oct 22: The British parliament published on Monday the government's Withdrawal Agreement bill (WAB), on which Prime minister Boris Johnson and the European Union agreed after months of Brexit negotiations.
The bill - full title "European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill" - is 110 pages long and sets out the term of the UK's exit from the EU.
The bill aims to turn the withdrawal agreement, which is an international treaty between the UK and the EU, into British law that can be ratified by the British government.
To do so, MPs must vote on the Bill in a 'meaningful vote'.
Theresa May, Boris Johnson's predecessor, also struck an agreement with the EU but was unable to get her deal past parliament.
The first debate on the Bill will take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
What's in the bill?
The WAB covers crucial points of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, including:
The 'divorce bill', or the payment that the UK must make to the EU as it leaves
Citizens' rights of European nationals living in the UK post-Brexit
The Irish border: how the customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will work
The role of the European Court of Justice in the UK
The continuity of some EU laws in the UK during the transition period after the UK's leaving date
The WAB states that the transition period - sometimes referred to in the UK as the implementation period - will end on 31 December 2020. It can, however, be extended by secondary legislation.
Any extension requested by the British government, as agreed by the EU, will have to be approved by parliament, the WAB says.
The Bill 'repeals' specific approval rules to allow the government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement as soon as the Bill is passed by parliament.
It also ensures that parliament will get a vote on the negotiations for the EU future relationship as well as on the final trade deal.
What happens next?
The leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said on Monday that the House of Commons would vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill starting Tuesday and until Thursday.
If the WAB cannot get past parliament in time for 31 October, the deadline set by the EU, then the UK would leave the EU on that date without a deal. But the Benn Act demanded that PM Boris Johnson sends a letter to the EU to request an extension, which Johnson did last weekend. The EU could grant the UK an extension until 31 January 2020, as asked, or to another date.
The European Parliament will be the final actor to have its say on the withdrawal agreement, the European Parliament's president, David Sassoli, said after the bill's publication on Monday.
The Bill has to be approved by both the British and European parliaments.
The WAB's length 'doesn't give much time' for MPs to read it
Shortly after the bill's publication, MPs took to social media to regret the short time they would have to read the bill's 110 pages and the 124 additional pages of explanatory notes.
"This is an unprecedentedly short period of time to dedicate to a massive and momentous piece of legislation," the MP Chris Leslie said in parliament after the Bill was introduced for its first reading.
Source: Euro News