Fixing the Exact Time and Date of Brexit Will Create Significant Difficulties, says Brexit Committee Chair

Photo by: Chatham House

The Brexit Committee’s influential chair has criticised a key amendment to the critical European Union Withdrawal Bill, saying that the decision of the government to enshrine the time and date of Brexit into law could create “significant difficulties.”

Hilary Benn, launching the report of the Brexit Committee on the Withdrawal Bill today,  said that today the amendment of the government to the Bill, which makes sure that Brexit will take place at 11 pm on 29 March 2019, will be problematic.

Benn stated: “We need to maintain flexibility as the negotiations proceed, but ministers are now proposing to remove from the Bill the power to set different exit days for different purposes and replace it with a single exit day.

“This would create significant difficulties if the negotiations were to continue until the 59th minute of the 11th hour, as the Secretary of State suggested to us might happen.”

And while the report welcomed the plans of the government to introduce a separate vote on the implementation of Brexit, Benn expressed confusion over a clause.

He said: “[It] does beg the question as to what Clause Nine of the… [Withdrawal] Bill – which is all about implementing a withdrawal agreement – is now for?”

The said report also demanded more clarity on how the British law will keep up with European changes after Brexit.

“In [some] areas, it will be in the UK’s interest to keep pace with changes to laws in the EU,” said the report.

“Government should… publish details of how they will ensure the UK’s regulatory agencies have the necessary resources and enforcement powers which are vital for consumer confidence.”

The report pointed out that between 800 and 1,000 new laws will be needed to be passed before the day of Brexit.

“Uncertainty will only be removed if all the necessary legislative amendments are in place by any potential exit day to ensure no gaps are left in the statute book,” said the report.