The House of Lords’ EU Committee has published its 1st report of the 2016/7 session: “Scrutinising Brexit: the role of Parliament“.

The report is blunt, and to the point:

  • Parliament’s role in the withdrawal negotiations will be “critical to their success” – Treaty ratification will require parliamentary approval; legislation giving effect to the withdrawal and new relationship will have to be effected by both Houses; parliament has a duty to hold the government to account; it will be a “vital forum for public debate and challenge“; and it will help to ensure there’s an audit trail for future generations;
  • Effective scrutiny will be “essential at all stages” – including during (a) any informal negotiations that might take place before the article 50 notice is given; (b) the withdrawal negotiations; and (c) the new relationship negotiations, “whether these take place before or after the completion of UK withdrawal“;
  • For Article 50 reasons:
    • the withdrawal negotiations must take place in the knowledge of the likely shape of, and the withdrawal agreement must take account of the framework for, the UK’s future relationship with the EU;
    • Result: “the two sets of negotiations could be conducted in parallel“*, and the parties “could decide that the agreement on a new relationship should come into force immediately on withdrawal“*, and that “would provide the greatest certainty for both sides” if it could be achieved in the time available. (* In each case, emphasis supplied.)