MPs debate stages of the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill

22 October 2019

MPs debate the stages of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. The second reading of the Bill was approved on Tuesday 22 October. The programme motion which outlines the timetable was not approved. The House of Commons will now continue debating the Queen's Speech.

Second reading

The debate started at 1.24pm and was opened by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister told MPs:

"If this House backs this legislation, if we ratify this new deal, which I believe is profoundly in the interest of the whole United Kingdom and our European friends, we can get Brexit done and move our country on.

And we can de-escalate those no-deal preparations immediately and turn them off next week, and instead concentrate on the great enterprise of building a new relationship of the closest cooperation and friendship - as I said on Saturday - with our European neighbours."

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, responded by saying:

"We warned on Saturday that if the House passes the Government's deal, it would be a disaster for our country.

Now as we look through the details of the Bill, we see just how right we were. Page after page of what amounts to nothing less than a charter for deregulation and a race to the bottom.

A deal and a bill that fails to protect our rights and our natural world, fails to protect jobs and our economy, fails to protect every region and nation in the United Kingdom.

This Bill confirms that Northern Ireland is really in the customs union of the EU, and goods will be subjected to tariffs."

What is second reading?

Second reading is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of the Bill. It usually takes place no sooner than two weekends after first reading.

What happens after second reading?

MPs have voted to approve the second reading of the Bill.

Therefore, it will proceed to committee stage - where each clause (part) and any amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill may be debated.

The Bill is currently in 'limbo' and will need notice before it is taken to the Committee of the Whole House.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20

Summary of the Bill

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill aims:

  • To implement, and make other provision in connection with, the agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union which sets out the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and documentation, including amendment papers, on the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

Further reading

The following documents are relevant to the second reading debate:

House of Commons Library analysis

The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs and their staff of key issues.

The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.

The Library has published a briefing paper for second reading.

Follow the @HouseofCommons on Twitter for updates on the UK House of Commons Chamber.

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