The Government has published its new EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which MPs will vote on tomorrow (Friday).
It’s been tweaked since the last time MPs voted on the bill, just two months ago. Several measures that the government included in an effort to secure as many MPs’ votes for it last time have now been removed.
So, what’s missing?
Approval of a implementation period extension
The original bill contained a measure allowing MPs to approve any request to extend the implementation (aka transition) period.
This period, which snaps into place the moment the UK leaves the EU on 31 January, will keep many rules the same to allow continuity. It’s due to end on 31 December 2020.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, both the UK and EU must agree by 1 July whether to extend the period by one or two years.
The new bill now contains an explicit “prohibition on extending the implementation period”.
Approval of the future relationship
The old bill required the government to get approval from Parliament for its mandate for negotiations with the EU on the future relationship.
Crucially, the old bill required this before negotiations could even start.
The approval requirement has been removed from the new bill. Perhaps because, given the government has ruled out an extension to the implementation period, the clock is very much ticking.
Protections for workers' rights
One of the big concessions in the old bill attempting to get Labour MPs to back it related to workers’ rights.
These have been removed.
The government has said they will be included in a separate bill.
Definition of Northern Irish goods
The old bill said a Minister “must” make regulations to define “qualifying Northern Ireland goods” affected by measures in the Irish backstop.
The new bill removes this requirement, simply saying a Minister “may” make such regulations.
Disclosure of information to the IMA
The Withdrawal Agreement sets up the independent monitoring authority (IMA) to oversee the implementation of citizens’ rights.
The new bill now says public authorities must not disclose information to the IMA if a Minister says it would be “undesirable for reasons of national security”.
Unaccompanied asylum seeking children
The new bill removes a requirement on the government to replicate existing arrangements with the EU relating to asylum seeking children wishing to join a relative in the UK.
The new bill now says a Minister must instead simply report within two months of Brexit on the UK’s future arrangements for dealing with unaccompanied asylum seeking children.