The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has passed through the Lords without amendment and Theresa May now has the power to trigger Article 50. As a result Britain is poised to begin its departure from the European Union.
The House of Lords has an important role in scrutinising and improving draft legislation and thankfully the unelected Chamber didn’t seek to block the will of the elected Commons.
The House of Commons had passed a bill without amendment and although the House of Lords has the right to continue amending it, to actually have done so would have been highly impractical and damaging to the process.
The bill has a straightforward purpose to deliver the referendum result and allow the Government to start the withdrawal negotiations. Thankfully the House of the Lords understood that to continue amending the bill would frustrate that process and put fly in the face of the Government’s intention to ensure a quick and smooth exit.
To be sure, it would have been quite wrong had the Government been cornered into having to use the Parliament Act to push through a law that was promised by the result of a fair and democratic referendum. This would have been the case not least because ‘ping- pong’ back and forth between the Houses would have sent the wrong message to the EU before formal negotiations begin.
In any event and as was always the case, the Government has already said that it wants to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain and the rights of British nationals living in other member states as early as it can. It would have liked to have reached agreement to do this earlier but some EU member states have wished to wait until negotiations begin.
The EU referendum delivered a result and the people’s wishes to leave the EU must be followed by the Government. It is, at least now at any rate, pleasing that the Government can get on with negotiating an exit deal in our best interests.
- Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
- He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
- He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
- He was Shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.
- He is Patron of the Parliamentary Space Committee (PSC) and was Chair of the PSC between 2010 and 2015.