In the Supreme Court the law lords found that the correct interpretation of the European Communities Act 1972 entails that the only way in which the UK could withdraw from the EU treaties was by way of a prior Act of Parliament.
The bill, states that not surprisingly the prime minister may notify the EU of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU “despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment”.
The five paragraph bill named the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has been written in a water tight fashion, to prevent amendments by hostile MPs. However, Kier Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary has announced that Labour have a series of amendments in the pipeline. One of the amendments is a requirement for a vote in parliament before the government may agree the withdrawal from the EU.
Whilst on the other hand, David Davies the Brexit secretary has said that he hopes that parliament would “pass the legislation quickly”. The plan is for Theresa May to trigger Article 50 in March to start the UK’s formal withdrawal of the EU.
However, this has come with criticism, there have been complaints that this swift time table will not allow for enough time for the bill to be scrutinised and amended. This is in comparison to other EU treaties, for example the Maastricht Treaty received approximately 30 days of debates in the Commons.
The week starting 20 February, is the week that the draft bill is expected to enter the Lords. This means that if the swift timescale is adhered to the legislation may receive Royal Assent on March 13.