Explanatory Notes

Parliamentary oversight

61 The Bill ensures that Parliament has a role in shaping the UK’s proposals for the long-term future relationship with the EU. The Bill legislates for this commitment, by providing Parliament with oversight of negotiations for our future relationship.

62 In addition to these requirements for parliamentary oversight ahead of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, the government has been clear that Parliament should have a significant role in shaping the second phase of negotiations with the EU, which will build on the Political Declaration to agree a legally-binding treaty governing the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Provisions in the Bill reflect this commitment, and the specific proposals are set out in paragraph 338 to 350 below. These provisions are not related to the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

63 Before negotiations of the future relationship between the UK and the EU can begin, the government will be under a duty to make a statement on the objectives of those negotiations. Ministers must then put that statement to a vote in the House of Commons for approval, and move a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement. If the Commons does not grant its approval, the negotiations for the second phase cannot begin.

64 During the negotiations, Ministers will be under an ongoing duty to seek to achieve the objectives set out in that statement. If the realities of negotiation require the Government to change its objectives, the Government must put the revised statement back to Parliament for approval.

65 The government will also be under an obligation to report on its progress towards objectives. This reporting provision requires the Government to make a statement to Parliament every three months on progress towards achieving its negotiating objectives.

66 The final aspect of this provision ensures that Parliament has the final approval on any treaty governing the future relationship that has been negotiated between the UK and the EU.

67 This enhanced role for Parliament will follow on from the existing mechanism for parliamentary approval of the outcome of the first phase of negotiations with the EU set out in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

68 The Bill will also provide for parliamentary scrutiny over any EU legislation made, or which may be made during the implementation period that, in the opinion of the European Scrutiny Committee, affects the UK’s vital national interests.

69 Additionally, the Bill also provides that Ministers accountable to Parliament must personally represent the UK in the UK-EU Joint Committee established by the Withdrawal Agreement.


Prepared 22nd October 2019