European Parliament’s Brexit steering group to ‘consider outcome’ of UK’s Brexit vote

Written by Martin Banks on 21 October 2019 in News
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Senior MEPs set to decide on Monday its next course of action on Brexit following the tumultuous events in the UK at the weekend.

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Guy Verhofstadt, the coordinator of the European parliament’s Brexit steering group, said The parliament’s authorities would “consider the outcome of the vote for the so-called Letwin amendment on Monday”.

This is a reference to the amendment - passed in the UK’s House of Commons on a rare Saturday sitting and tabled by British Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin - that withholds approval of the deal until the legislation to implement it has been passed.

On Monday, the UK government will make a second attempt to hold a vote on the new Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, presenting MPs with a straight choice to approve or oppose the deal in principle.


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Whether the UK parliament’s Speaker, John Bercow, will allow that, though, is not yet clear - he could rule it out on the grounds it amounts to debating the same matter twice.

The UK government also plans to introduce the legislation required to implement the Brexit deal - the Withdrawal Agreement Bill - during Monday's Commons session.

"Again, the UK Parliament has voted against a no-deal Brexit with the Letwin amendment to avoid a situation in which the British people are confronted with the choice of a no-deal exit in ten days or only the deal negotiated by Boris Johnson. Now it is up to the House of Commons to continue the procedure and vote on the deal itself" Iratxe García MEP

In a special sitting on Saturday in the UK Parliament, MPs voted to ensure that the UK will not crash out of the EU without a deal, by supporting an amendment to withhold approval until the legislation for a deal is in place. Without a vote on the deal, agreed by the EU and the UK last week, extension of the UK's membership of the EU is now necessary.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written to European council president Donald Tusk, requesting a further delay to the UK’s departure for the EU.

Reacting to latest events, Verhoftstadt added: “Whatever happens next, the marches outside the parliament show just how important a close EU-UK future relationship is.”

An estimated two million pro-Europe supporters marched in London on Saturday in a bid to force a second referendum on whether to leave the EU.

Further MEP comment came from S&D group leader in the European Parliament, Iratxe García, a Spanish deputy, who said, “Brexit is a difficult and painful process for everyone. In our group we have always said that we would prefer the UK to stay in the EU but we will respect the will of the British people.”

“Again, the UK Parliament has voted against a no-deal Brexit with the Letwin amendment to avoid a situation in which the British people are confronted with the choice of a no-deal exit in ten days or only the deal negotiated by Boris Johnson. Now it is up to the House of Commons to continue the procedure and vote on the deal itself.”

"The constitutional affairs committee will have an In-Camera meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, later today. Let’s wait for their evaluation. For now, the European parliament resolution in September was clear on the intention of the parliament to vote only if [any deal is] approved by the UK parliament" European Parliament Spokesman

Her S&D group colleague and spokesperson on Brexit, Pedro Silva Pereira, said, “The ball remains in the UK's court. An extension of UK membership is needed so that the House of Commons can continue with the procedure and decide on the deal now on the table.”

Pereira added, the European Parliament will support an extension to avoid no deal, as is already stated in a parliamentary resolution. Only after the House of Commons has decided, and once we have scrutinised the agreement, will the European Parliament vote on its consent.”

MEPs were expecting to hold a debate and vote on the new Brexit deal this week during their Strasbourg plenary session.

A European Parliament spokesman, speaking on Monday, told this website, “The steering group will meet at 3pm today and the conference of presidents (group leaders) at 6pm to assess the situation.

“The constitutional affairs committee will have an In-Camera meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, later today. Let’s wait for their evaluation. For now, the European parliament resolution in September was clear on the intention of the parliament to vote only if [any deal is] approved by the UK parliament.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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