The EU Withdrawal Bill (the “bill”) was passed unamended late on Monday 13 March after peers voted by 274 to 118 votes not to challenge the House of Commons again over the issue of whether Parliament should have a veto on the terms of exit. The House of Lords also agreed not to reinsert guarantees over the status of EU residents in the UK into the bill, with the Government winning the vote by a margin of 274 votes to 135. The Prime Minister now has authority to trigger Article 50 but it is understood from official sources that she will not use this power until next week at the earliest.
The bill had been sent back to the House of Commons after the House of Lords voted on two amendments to the wording of the bill: firstly, a request for the Government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK before formal negotiations begin; and secondly, a request that the Prime Minister will give Parliament a meaningful say on the final terms of any deal reached with the EU. The House of Commons rejected both changes to the bill on Monday night and the House of Lords, electing to respect the decision of the elected chamber, was not prepared to block the bill again.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Programme last Sunday , David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, announced that the Government would be prepared to walk away from the EU without a deal if the terms are not in the best interest of the UK. Mr Davis also said that securing the rights of EU citizens in the UK was a priority for the Government in upcoming negotiations, as well as the rights of UK citizens currently residing in the EU. On the issue of guaranteeing parliament a vote on the final terms, Mr Davis said that the Government “will not sign up to anything that ties the prime minister’s hand” in negotiations.