Following the UK Parliament's failure to pass the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and the EU on 29 March, a second round of indicative votes took place on Monday 1 April. Four options were voted upon (see the House of Commons website for more details) – whittled down from the eight options from the first round of indicative votes on 27 March – but with none securing a majority.
Extending Article 50
On Wednesday 3 April, the House of Commons approved a Private Member’s bill in the name of Yvette Cooper, which requires the Prime Minister to request an extension to Article 50 in the absence of an approved deal. The Prime Minister has since written to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, requesting a further extension of Article 50 until 30th June 2019 (the current leave date is 12 April) and the European Council will consider this request at a special meeting on Wednesday 10th April.
The PM also offered talks – which are now underway - with the Leader of the Opposition to attempt to agree a plan on the way forward. Furthermore, the Prime Minister confirmed that if neither side can come to an agreement “we would instead agree a number of options for the Future Relationship that we could put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue”.
Depending on the outcome of the European Council meeting on 10 April, the Government may need to approve a different extension date on Thursday or Friday of that week.
What does this mean for the NHS?
Unless and until a Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK and European Parliament, or any extension is agreed by the EU, the legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU on 12th April 2019 without a deal.
Therefore, the health sector must prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit on 12 April (Read the letter to this effect to the NHS from Prof. Keith Willett, EU Exit Strategic Commander). The NHS should continue the work it is undertaking to prepare for leaving the EU without a deal on 12 April.
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