Brexit Bill: Anyone for Ping Pong?

16 Feb 2017

Policy area: Brexit

BPF Head of EU Engagement Patrick Brown provides an update on the Brexit legislation as it continues its passage through Parliament.

The Prime Minister and her government are bracing for parliamentary ‘ping pong’ on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, as it is about to enter the Lords, where the Conservatives lack a majority. Much has been said this week by various political commentators of all colours about the existential risk that a pushback by peers would have for the House of Lords. Yet perhaps most credibly, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said earlier this week that it was expected that peers would amend the Bill. There is a repository of expertise in the Lords, not least among its European Committees, that may be deployed to great effect.

Labour has so far issued a number of amendments in the Lords; perhaps the one the government might find hardest to resist is one that would provide guarantees to 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. The Bill survived its Commons passage unamended, but if the Lords does support amendments to the Bill, reconciliation will need to be informally sought between the Houses via ‘ping pong’ until final agreement was sought.

It should be recalled that this ‘ping pong’ process was deployed masterfully during the Housing and Planning Bill. Yet with all the political capital invested in shepherding Brexit initiation through the constitutional hurdles by this government, the Lords might do well to tread carefully.

As it is, the deadline for meeting the end of March deadline for launching Article 50 could be in the lap of the Lords.

Looking forward to the legislation the government is planning in order to transpose the corpus of EU law into national legislation post-Brexit (ie. applying from 2019 if anticipated timelines are held to), we are preparing a call for evidence on what the anticipated effects of Brexit will be for real estate.  More on that, and how to contribute, will be available soon.