Brexit: Charter amendment falls as Lords focus on Meaningful Vote

Date: 27th June 2018
Category: Other human rights treaties and mechanisms

The EU Withdrawal Bill has now completed its bumpy 11-month ride through the Houses of Parliament with Royal Assent the final stage needed before the Bill becomes law. Some improvements have been made, such as reducing the scope for Henry VIII powers. However, despite our efforts, the fight to protect the Charter of Fundamental Rights was lost in the final days of the debates.

Since the Bill was first introduced in July 2017, Together has been working hard to persuade MPs and Peers of the value of the Charter in protecting human rights and children's rights in particular. We were hopeful when the Lords passed an amendment in May 2018 to keep the Charter. However, this was quickly reversed by MPs upon the Bill's return to the House of Commons. When the Bill returned one final time to the House of Lords earlier this month, Together and our sister organisation CRAE produced a joint briefing urging Peers to reinstate their amendment protecting the Charter.

Unfortunately, Peers did not move their Charter amendment so there was no discussion or vote on the issue. Instead, Peers chose to give priority to the meaningful vote amendment and dedicate the limited time they had to debating that issue. This was driven by a belief that they had a better chance of winning the meaningful vote amendment than the charter amendment. Sadly, the meaningful vote amendment was later also voted down by the Commons.

Although the Withdrawal Bill is now complete, we are far from the end of the Brexit process. Together's attention will now turn to the forthcoming UK Government White Paper on the future EU-UK relationship, the Withdrawal and Implementation Bill and following substantive Bills (e.g. on immigration) to advocate that these fully respect the rights of the child.