On the significance of the EU Withdrawal Bill eventually getting Royal assent.

[This piece was originally written in the format of a Twitter thread and has been minorly edited and corrected.] 

So, the EU Withdrawal Bill has received Royal assent today (Royal assent is the moment when a bill becomes law in the UK.) and is now the EU Withdrawal Act.

What does that mean?

Crucially, it means that on 29 March 2019, the 1972 European Communities Act will cease to apply in the UK.

That Act underpins the entire system of UK membership of the European Union, through its provisions that enact EU-level decisions.

There has long been plenty of discussion of how and whether the 1972 European Communities Act works properly, but in practice it is the hook on which membership is made effective in the UK.

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“So what?”, you cry.

Well, by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act, the UK is now tied even more into leaving the European Union.

Article 50 is the UK-EU side of things, but the EU Withdrawal Act is the domestic side, and both are needed.

That means that if Britain decides it wants to change the date of departure (either to later or to ‘never’), it will also have to amend this legislation, otherwise that extended membership cannot work.

That also puts Parliament in control on any such extension, which it didn’t unambiguously have over Article 50 itself.

So, today is another step in committing Britain to leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019.

Which means there is even more pressure to reach an agreed Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.

In short, Britain is leaving the EU, even more certainly now than before.🔷

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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)

(Cover: Dreamstime/Andreykuzmin.)