May promises “new and improved” Brexit Bill next month

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a “new and improved” Withdrawal Agreement Bill for next month, which is to include “proposals for alignment with EU standards on workers’ rights” and environmental protection. 

Writing on Sunday she said, “When the Withdrawal Agreement Bill comes before MPs, it will represent a new, bold offer to MPs across the House of Commons, with an improved package of measures that I believe can win new support. It will deliver a Brexit that honours the decision the British people took in the referendum with a Brexit that is good for jobs, good for our security, and which sets the whole UK on course for a bright future outside the EU.”

There are also reports that a five page summary of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill was sent to Cabinet Ministers last week. According to the document, the Bill will contain a provision giving Parliament the final say before the backstop is implemented and contain an obligation on the Government to “seek” alternative arrangements to the backstop before the end of 2020. It would also incorporate an amendment proposed in March by the Labour MPs Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, which would give Parliament a say in the negotiation objectives of the future UK-EU relationship.

This comes as the cross-party Brexit talks ended without agreement on Friday. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote, “I am writing to let you know that I believe the talks between us about finding a compromise agreement on leaving the European Union have now gone as far as they can,” adding, “I should reiterate that, without significant changes, we will continue to oppose the Government’s deal as we do not believe it safeguards jobs, living standards and manufacturing industry in Britain.”

Meanwhile, May launched the Conservative Party’s European Parliament election campaign in Bristol on Friday. Commenting on the end of the talks, she said, “We have not been able to overcome the fact that there is not a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum  which could reverse it,” adding, “When we come to bring the legislation forward we will think carefully about what we’ve had with these talks, the outcome of these talks, we’ll also consider whether we will have some votes to see if the ideas that have come through command a majority in the House of Commons.”

Elsewhere, Corbyn said, “We would not rule out a second referendum. But it wouldn’t be a referendum on 2016 terms, it would be a referendum to prevent a No Deal, catastrophic exit from the European Union.” 

Corbyn also appeared on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, saying, “I want us to get a good deal and then have a decision of the public after that,” adding, “If we can get that through parliament, the proposals we’ve put, then I think it would be reasonable to have a public vote to decide on that in the future.” Corbyn also said he was “not staunchly against free movement.”

Separately, appearing on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Change UK spokesman Chuka Umunna said, “I’ve come to the view that we are now at a point where we are going to need to revoke Article 50.”

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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