Members of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords will begin scrutinizing Brexit legislation this week that their colleagues in the House of Commons supported on Thursday after months of deadlock.
The House of Lords is an unelected second chamber that does not have the power to block legislation emanating from the Commons but that can suggest amendments.
The European Union(Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which members of Parliament sitting in the House of Commons supported by 330 votes to 231, will come into effect after it has cleared the House of Lords.
The bill outlines the “divorce” payments that the UK will send to the European Union after it leaves the bloc on Jan 31, and also sets out the future rights of EU citizens, customs arrangements, and describes the planned 11-month transition period during which the UK will not be a member of the EU but will essentially follow its rules.
The two sides will use that time to negotiate a free-trade agreement.
In the past, the bill had been strongly contested and had divided Parliament but, following the Conservative Party’s decisive victory in the Dec 12 general election, MPs supported it with minimal fuss.
But the BBC noted that the Liberal Democrats still hope Brexit can be derailed.
Alistair Carmichael, the party’s Brexit spokesperson, said: “They have voted for a bill that will slash the rights of future generations to live and work across 27 other countries. They have voted for a bill that strips away our guaranteed environmental protections, despite the fact that we are facing a climate emergency.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to start negotiating a free-trade deal with the EU on Feb 1 and intends to have it in place by the end of the year.
But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has said that may not be possible.
“If the UK wants an open link with us for the products－zero tariffs, zero quotas－we need to be careful about zero dumping at the same time,” the Evening Standard quoted him as saying. “I hope that this point is and will be correctly understood by everybody.”
But, despite the challenges, Barnier said the EU is eager to get around the table.
“We cannot expect to agree on every aspect of this new partnership,” he said. “We are ready to do our best in the 11 months”.