What happens next with UK plan to breach Brexit divorce treaty?

The bill is scheduled to finish its journey through the lower house on Sept. 29.

After this it will undergo scrutiny in the House of Lords. The bill is not being fast-tracked by Lords and will take most of October and November to consider.

This means it will not be law either before the EU’s end of September deadline to withdraw the bill, or Johnson’s Oct. 15 deadline for a deal with the EU. The negotiations around either of these deadlines, if successful, could remove the need for the bill’s most contentious parts.


Many members of the upper house have criticized the bill, including Conservatives, but their primary role is to amend and improve legislation, not to block it on principle.

While there is precedent for the Lords blocking legislation, deciding to do so on this bill would provoke a constitutional row, and such a move is currently seen as unlikely.

The House of Lords is more likely to seek to amend the bill to remove or dilute certain parts, or insert additional checks and balances. The amendments would go back to the House of Commons for approval — probably in early December.

If Johnson’s lower-house majority holds firm, the bill could bounce back and forth between the two chambers until either a compromise is found or the government attempts to pass it without House of Lords approval.


Johnson has so far made two concessions.

Firstly he promised parliament a vote on any decision to use the treaty-breaking powers created by the bill — a compromise that snuffed out a rebellion within his own party.

Secondly, he has also committed to referring any dispute with the EU to the resolution mechanism set out in the Withdrawal Agreement “in parallel” to using the treaty-busting powers unilaterally. (Reporting by William James, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Catherine Evans)

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