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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Benjamin Yong

Yong, Ben & Thompson, Louise (2019). What do we mean by parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit? A view from the House of Commons. In Brexit and Democracy: The Role of Parliaments and Citizens. Christiansen, Thomas & Fromage, Diane Palgrave Macmillan.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has already resulted in three
significant pieces of legislation for the UK Parliament to scrutinize: the European Union
(Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the 2016-17 session; the European Union (Withdrawal)
Bill; and the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill in the 2017-19 session, all three of which
went on to receive Royal Assent. We explore here the type and quality of parliamentary
scrutiny of the first of these bills. Scrutiny is an ambiguous concept, contingent upon a
legislatures’ constitutional and procedural rules, but it is also contingent on the stances of
particular actors – including government, opposition, parliamentary committees and
outside observers. We explore here the perspectives of key actors during the House of
Commons’ scrutiny of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. Our analysis
finds that the quality of parliament’s scrutiny of the bill shifts, depending on who is asking
the question, their objectives, the object of their scrutiny and the forum in which the
question is being asked. In short, the meanings attributed to scrutiny of EU withdrawal in
the UK broadly correspond to the various constitutional, procedural and party-political
dimensions in play.