1 The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (“the Bill”) has 2 clauses. A summary of, and background to, the Bill is provided below.
2 The Bill would give the Prime Minister power to notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.
3 The European Union Referendum Act 2015 (section 1) provided for the question of whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union to be put to a referendum. That referendum took place on 23 June 2016. A majority of those who voted in the referendum voted in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
4 On 2 October 2016 the Prime Minister announced that the Government would commence the formal process of leaving the European Union before the end of March 2017.
5 The procedure for withdrawing from the European Union is set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (‘TEU’). The first step in the procedure is for the Member State that has decided to withdraw to notify the European Council of its intention (Article 50(2)).
6 In R (on the application of Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union  UKSC 5 the Supreme Court considered whether it would be inconsistent with the terms of the European Communities Act 1972 for the Prime Minister to give notice to the European Union, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty of the European Union, of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU Treaties, without a prior Act of Parliament. In an 8-3 judgment the Supreme Court concluded that a prior Act of Parliament is required. This Bill provides the Prime Minister with the necessary power to give notice of withdrawal under Article 50(2).
7 The Supreme Court also considered arguments relating to the devolution acts and whether consent of the devolved administrations is required before notice to withdraw can be served. The unanimous decision of the court was that EU and other foreign affairs matters are reserved to the UK Government and Parliament and that the devolved legislatures do not have a veto on the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU.
8 This Bill extends, and applies in relation to, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. NOTE FROM MUNGUIN: WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO GIBRALTAR?
9 The Bill does not contain any provision which gives rise to the need for a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Assembly.
10 The Government intends to ask Parliament to expedite the parliamentary progress of this Bill. In their report on Fast-track Legislation: Constitutional Implications and Safeguards, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution recommended that the Government should provide more information as to why a piece of legislation should be fast-tracked.
Why is fast-tracking necessary?
11 The judgment of 24 January 2017 required the Government to complete an additional (and unexpected) step before the formal process of leaving the European Union can commence. Completing this step through the normal Bill timetable would cause considerable delay to commencing the formal exit process, making it impossible to do so before the end of March 2017. This would further generate uncertainty as to the timetable for our exit from the European Union.
What efforts have been made to ensure the amount of time made available for parliamentary scrutiny has been maximised?
12 The Bill is being published on the same day it is introduced and arrangements are being made for amendments to be accepted in advance of second reading in the House of Commons.
Does the Bill include a sunset clause (as well as any appropriate renewal procedure)? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?
13 Due to the nature and content of the Bill, it does not include a sunset clause.
Are mechanisms for effective post-legislative scrutiny and review in place? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?
14 The impact of the Bill itself will be both clear and limited, therefore mechanisms for post legislative scrutiny are not necessary.
Has an assessment been made as to whether existing legislation is sufficient to deal with any or all of the issues in questions?
15 An assessment has been undertaken and existing legislation is not sufficient to give notice under Article 50(2) TEU.
Have the relevant Parliamentary committees been given the opportunity to scrutinise the legislation?
16 Given the need to introduce legislation as quickly as possible, it has not been possible to formally discuss with Parliamentary Committees.
Clause 1: Power to notify withdrawal
17 Clause 1(1) provides power for the Prime Minister to notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.
18 The power that is provided by clause 1(1) applies to withdrawal from the EU. This includes the European Atomic Energy Community (‘Euratom’), as the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 sets out that the term “EU” includes (as the context permits or requires) Euratom (section 3(2)).
19 Clause 1(2) provides that the powers in clause 1(1) are conferred regardless of any restrictions which may arise from any other legislation, including the European Communities Act 1972.
Clause 2: Short title
20 Clause 2 confirms the intended short title of the Act.
21 Commencement would be on Royal Assent.
22 The Bill is not expected to have any financial implications.
23 No money resolution is required.
24 It is considered that the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.
From the same page in the Guardian, I noticed this piece. May was, at the time of writing, winging her way across the Atlantic to do some heavy duty grovelling to Trump. Polly Toynbee wrote:
On her flight, she should read [Trump’s] obnoxious book, The Art of the Deal, where the other guy is always shafted. Sure, he’ll promise a deal and she’ll come home pretending triumph. But in hammering out the terms, detail by detail, we shall eat humble pie made of genetically modified, hormone-injected meat. Our City of London, our public services, our NHS risk being devoured by predatory US companies, with any resistance adjudicated by a US trade court far more onerous than the shared European court of justice she derides.
So in the next few days we shall see the hard right Tory press lauding her up hill and down dale, because Trump, who appears to loathe the EU and all it stands for, is giving her her red carpet treatment including a joint press conference (I wonder if Tessa will find that embarrassing). Doubtless, the promise of a deal will be made. But in the ‘America First’ world of Dumbo Trump, we all know that’s not going to end well..at least not for us.
Still, who needs a heath service?