New Clause 11

Thank you for contacting me about New Clause 11 which was tabled to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill at Report Stage. As you will be aware the Bill has concluded its Report and Third Reading Stages in the Commons and is now being debated in the Lords.

In line with the decision taken in the EU Referendum the UK will be leaving the EU in March 2019 and the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will help to ensure that this happens in an orderly and effective way. My ministerial colleagues are working towards securing a withdrawal agreement with the EU which will work in the interests of both parties and I am confident that this will be achieved.

The Government has said that a vote will be held in both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible after the negotiations have ended. If MPs and Peers vote in favour of the deal, it will then be put into UK law through which process they will again be able to debate what has been agreed. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 also makes clear that if Parliament resolves against a treaty it cannot be ratified by the Government.

In the unlikely situation that an agreement is not reached or Parliament votes to reject it, the UK will leave, under the terms of Article 50, without a deal. The Government is prudently preparing for all outcomes and it has given nearly £700 million to departments to prepare for the UK's exit from the EU as well as a further £3 billion over the next two years.

EU law sets out that the withdrawing member state leaves the EU two years after notification of Article 50. Unilaterally extending the negotiating period is not in the power of the UK Government. For these reasons the Government did not support New Clause 11 to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.