Tuesday brought an eventful day in Parliament. The terms of the EU Withdrawal Act as drawn mean that the government has 21 days to come back to parliament, in the event of the withdrawal deal being voted down, with a motion detailing its’ ‘Plan B.’ However, an amendment to the parliamentary motion brought by Dominic Grieve was passed by 321 votes to 299 on Tuesday. MPs will now have the chance to amend the government’s ‘Plan B’.
Tuesday also brought a drop in the UK pound to that of the April 2017 lows against the dollar following the government being found in contempt of Parliament for not publishing its full legal advice on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. The drop was brief however, recovering after Dominic Grieve’s amendment won favour in Westminster.
Following a referral from the Court of Session (Scotland’s highest court) to the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”), an Advocate General from the ECJ has opined that the UK Government are able to unilaterally revoke the Article 50 notice to leave the EU without ratification by the other 27 Member States. Whilst the opinion is not legally binding, the ECJ do usually follow such opinions. Advocate General, Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona believes that as the UK were able to unilaterally trigger Article 50, they should also have the power of revocation. Judgment is due on 10 December 2018.
Meanwhile, the government has been held to be in contempt of parliament through their failure to release the full legal advice provided by the Attorney General on Brexit. A vote held in parliament this week saw the government defeated by 311 votes to 293. The government had released a summary of the legal advice prior to the vote but following the vote was obliged to release the entirety of the advice.
Just this morning, we have heard the Prime Minister, Theresa May intimate that Parliament may be given a vote on whether there should be an extension to the transition period or enter the backstop if one of those options becomes necessary. The principle of choice has been negotiated by the Prime Minister and the EU 27 Member States and is recorded in the withdrawal agreement which provides that, if the customs arrangements coming into force after the transition period ends do not avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the UK government can decide to choose between extending the transition or entering the backstop.