EU Withdrawal Bill: what happens now?

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the ‘Repeal Bill’, sets out the legal framework for the UK leaving the EU. It is now to be debated in the House of Lords as the UK government attempts to railroad it through parliament, with Labour’s support – here’s everything you need to know.


What’s happening at Westminster?

The Bill has now completed it’s passage through the House of Commons, where Tory and Labour MP joined together to reject key amendments on the place of devolved administrations within the Brexit process, retention of the EU Fundamental Charter of Rights and other rights in areas such as such as consumer rights, equality protections and environmental standards post-Brexit, and on remaining within the vitally important European single market and customs union.

A majority in the House of Commons voted in favour of the bill on 18 January a vote that was opposed by the majority of Scottish MPs. The Bill will now proceed onto the House of Lords, meaning that the unelected House of Lords will now have more of a say over Brexit than the elected parliaments of the devolved nations.

What will the Scottish Parliament do? Can it veto the Bill?

The First Minister has lodged a ‘Legislative Consent Memorandum’ at Holyrood, setting out why the Scottish Government believes the Scottish Parliament should withhold its consent for the Bill.

The Scottish Parliament has no power to veto Brexit. While we continue to believe that Scotland should remain part of the European Union, we must prepare responsibly for whatever may transpire.

How is the SNP working with others to amend the Bill?

Nicola Sturgeon and the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, issued a joint statement in August, calling on the UK government to respect the devolution settlement. Read the statement here.

The First Minister of Wales has now also recommended to the Welsh Assembly that it does not give consent to the Bill.

Scottish Government amendments – proposed jointly with the Welsh Government – would:

  • ensure EU powers in devolved policy areas go back to devolved Parliaments;

  • ensure Tory Ministers can’t change the devolution settlement unilaterally;

  • require Scottish Government agreement before changes to current EU laws are made in devolved areas; and

  • ensure Scottish Ministers do not have additional restrictions placed on them compared to Tory Ministers.

Why does the SNP oppose the EU (Withdrawal) Bill?

The devolution settlement is based on the principle that everything is devolved to the Scottish Parliament unless it is reserved to Westminster.

This bill turns that principle on its head – all powers exercised at EU level, whether they are devolved or not, will be taken by the UK Government.  That’s why the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have called the bill a power grab.