Brexit briefing: Lords stages of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill
Since the terms of the transition agreement were agreed in March, questions over immigration and future customs arrangements between the UK and EU – and how they would apply to the Irish Border – have increasingly dominated the Brexit discourse. Ahead of the EU Summit in June, when pressure will mount for an answer to the border issue, and as the EU (Withdrawal) Bill nears the end of its passage through the Lords, we summarise recent key developments. This briefing contains details of:
- The latest UK political developments relating to Brexit
- Developments in the Brexit negotiations
- Parliamentary activities relating to Brexit, including the Lords stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the MAC interim report and Immigration White Paper.
- NHS Providers’ work with the Cavendish Coalition and the Brexit Health Alliance to address the potential impacts of Brexit for the health and care sectors
- The Prime Minister, Theresa May, set out the Government’s latest Brexit position in her Mansion House speech on 2 March, but the UK’s future customs arrangements with the EU continue to be a point of contention, both within the Cabinet and between the UK and EU. The Government will publish a Brexit White Paper, which will set out the UK’s future relationship with the EU, ahead of the EU Summit in June.
- The joint UK-EU withdrawal deal published in March set out that the UK will retain the benefits of the single market and customs union for the transition period, which will end by December 2020, but will lose its role in any decision-making institutions. Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator, has since said that there has been no significant progress on any of the key Brexit issues since March.
- A hard border within Ireland would appear to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, and the UK has guaranteed that it will maintain "full alignment" with the EU's single market and customs rules that govern cross-border trade in Ireland. However, it is not yet clear how full alignment could be maintained without Northern Ireland staying in the single market and the customs union – which the DUP, on whose support the Conservative Government is reliant, objects to as it would see Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.
- The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has completed its report stage in the House of Lords and now moves back to the House of Commons. The Government lost a number of votes in the Lords on key issues such as a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final deal and removing the date and time of exit from the Bill. The Bill will now go through its ‘ping pong’ phase, starting with the Commons voting on whether to accept or reject the Lords’ amendments.