INDICATIVE votes will take place today, Tory Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom confirmed yesterday afternoon, after which the Withdrawal Bill amendment to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit will be brought forward ‘for consideration’.
Legally the UK is still bound to leave the EU on March 29th, and the law is yet to be changed to stop that. But Leadsom has announced a new statutory instrument to change UK law and extend Brexit.
She said: ‘Exit day as amended would be the 22 May, if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved before 11pm on the 29th March, otherwise it would be 11pm on 12 April.’
Peter Bone, Tory MP for Wellington, intervened: ‘I thought the act required an exit date, not two optional dates. So I am surprised that the statutory instrument is actually naming two dates. I would have thought the right way would have been to have the 12 of April and extend later if need be.
‘I am also right in thinking, and I am sure people would agree, that until those statutory instruments go through both Houses of this Parliament, and that is, if they are passed, then we will be coming out of the European Union, at least domestically in three days’ time.’
Leadsom replied: ‘This is an incredibly important point that my right honourable friend has raised.
‘This House voted on March 14 for a short extension to Article 50. The EU Council’s conclusions were turned into a legal decision with which the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom agreed.
‘And those conclusions came into force last Friday. So the date for our departure from the EU has already changed in international law.’
However, she then warned: ‘But I do want to be very clear, a rejection of the statutory instrument that the government seeks to bring forward would create a clash in UK law.
‘This is because a large volume of EU legislation preparing the UK statute book for the moment EU law ceases to apply, is due to enter into force automatically on exit day.
‘So, in international law, the exit date has already changed and this statutory instrument seeks to clarify that in UK law.’
In other words, if this amendment does not pass in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the UK will leave the EU in just two days’ time.