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PM's withdrawal agreement: Lords debates statement

29 January 2019

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On Monday 28 January the House of Lords debated the written statement made by the prime minister on 21 January 2019. In the statement, the PM set out the government's approach following the House of Commons' vote not to ratify the negotiated EU withdrawal agreement.

The debate was on two connected motions.

In the first motion, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Conservative), the Leader of the House of Lords, proposed that the House takes note of a written statement she made on 21 January repeating the prime minister's statement, and a written statement she made on 24 January clarifying the terms of the debate.

This motion passed without a vote. This means the House of Lords fulfilled its obligations under the EU (Withdrawal) Act, section 13(4) and section 13(11)(a).

In the second motion, Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour), the Leader of the Opposition in the Lords, proposed that the government takes all appropriate steps to ensure that the UK does not leave the EU without an agreement, and that sufficient time is provided for the Lords to ensure the timely passage of legislation necessary to implement any deal or proposition agreed by the House of Commons.

This motion went to a division (a vote). 283 members voted in favour of the motion with 131 voting against, so the motion was agreed.

This vote does not stop the House taking note of the government statements and fulfilling its obligations under the EU (Withdrawal) Act, but puts the opinion of the Lords on record.


The House of Lords concluded its debate on the withdrawal agreement for the purposes of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 on 14 January 2019.

During this debate, the House agreed a motion proposed by Baroness Smith of Basildon that that the House of Commons must determine the matter, but that the House of Lords emphatically rejects a no deal outcome to negotiations with the EU. Baroness Smith's motion also regretted that the withdrawal agreement and political declaration would do grave damage to the future economic prosperity, internal security and global influence of the UK.

Both Houses began debates in December 2018 for the purposes of fulfilling the requirements of section 13. However, the day before the meaningful vote was due to take place in the Commons, the Prime Minister announced that she was deferring the vote in order to seek further assurances from the EU about the Northern Ireland backstop arrangements in the withdrawal agreement, as she believed that the Commons would otherwise reject the deal. In view of the postponement of the meaningful vote, the Lords adjourned its debate.

Further information

Image: House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Annabel Moeller