Constitutional expert warns Brexit legislation could still be in ‘significant arrears’ come vote on final deal

Professor Stephen Tierney
Professor Stephen Tierney

There is a “real risk” that the UK government will struggle to pass essential legislation on leaving the EU before a vote on the final Brexit deal – with almost half of the bills needed yet to be introduced to Parliament.

Following a warning from Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman, that MPs would be asked to vote on the final deal with crucial legislation still pending, Professor Stephen Tierney, legal adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee, told Irish Legal News that it was “hard to see” how the situation could be resolved before the summer recess.

Only three major bills have reached the Lords in this session, mainly because of the EU Withdrawal Bill itself, he said.

“The Lords committee stage was of course taken on the floor of the House and lasted several weeks, leading up to the Easter recess. This meant that very little other business could be tabled.

“Given that only now are significant government amendments being laid at report stage in the Lords, the focus of Parliament will continue to centre upon the Brexit Bill well into May.”

Professor Tierney noted that, as such, “it is hard to see how the log-jam can be significantly reduced before summer recess which is then followed by conference season”.

He added: “There is a real risk that the Brexit legislative programme could still be in significant arrears at the time of any deal with the EU in October.”