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Mark Elliott @ProfMarkElliott
, 16 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
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Has Parliament 'taken back control' by passing Amendment 7 to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill?
Amendment 7 amends clause 9 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Clause 9 allows the Government to make secondary legislation implementing withdrawal agreement.
Clause 9 is an especially wide power because it allows primary legislation, including the Withdrawal Bill itself, to be amended.
Amendment 7 says clause 9 power cannot be used unless Parliament passes a statute approving terms of UK withdrawal from EU.
So clause 9, as amended, now cannot be used to implement withdrawal agreement without parliamentary approval - via statute - of agreement.
In practice, that means clause 9 unlikely to be used at all: Withdrawal and Implementation Bill will presumably approve agreement & supply legal basis for its implementation.
Indeed, once Government indicated there would need to be a Withdrawal and Implementation Bill, the need for clause 9 became unclear: looked like needless executive power-grab.
Government had already undertaken (in today's ministerial statement by Brexit Secretary) not to use clause 9 until Parliament approved withdrawal terms.
But Amendment 7 means that there is now not just ministerial assurance but legal assurance that withdrawal agreement can't be implemented absent parliamentary agreement.
What this amendment, on its own, doesn't do is directly enable Parliament (e.g.) to force Government back to negotiating table if it doesn't like the deal.
Nor does the fact that Parliament could amend the Bill approving the withdrawal agreement mean that Parliament could amend the agreement itself. That's a matter for negotiation between UK and EU.
Key point to remember is that Article 50 operates automatically, by default, to eject UK from EU on 29 March 2019, whether or not there is an agreement, and whether or not Parliament likes it.
But Amendment 7 does increase Parliament's bargaining power: Government now knows it can't go ahead and implement withdrawal agreement without Parliament's buy-in.
This gives Parliament more leverage: the Government will have a stronger incentive to bring back a deal that is likely to garner parliamentary support.
Tonight's vote is therefore an important victory for Parliament and strengthens its hand.
But, perhaps ironically, the degree of control Parliament can assert over the Brexit terms is itself limited by Article 50 - which, of course, Parliament authorised the Government to trigger earlier this year.

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