Exiting the European Union Committee
A hectic few days for the Exiting the EU Committee team leading into the debate as the Committee had agreed to produce a report on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the Future Relationship negotiated between the EU and the UK in time to inform the debate and vote in the House of Commons.
This report would be the culmination of the Committee's work since the election. It built on its regular progress reports on the negotiations and its analysis of different models for UK/EU relations, and work on particular areas of ongoing and future negotiations such as citizens' rights and arrangements for data sharing.
We had scheduled an evidence session with Stephen Barclay MP, the new Secretary of State, and Olly Robbins, the Prime Minister's Europe Adviser, for the afternoon of Monday 3 December. We needed to make sure that we reflected their evidence in the report.
The previous week was spent analysing first the Withdrawal Agreement that came out on 14 November and then the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship agreed between both sides on 25 November to prepare briefing for the Committee for the session. The team was also working closely with the Chair, Hilary Benn, on drafts and re-drafts of the report.
On the Monday, after more than two and a half hours of the evidence session and a discussion with the Chair, we were back in the office working on the report to incorporate the evidence we had just taken from Stephen Barclay MP and Olly Robbins.
Tuesday morning and the Chair was back in the office first thing with his thoughts on the latest draft that we had sent him late the previous night. We were then able to send a report out to the Committee at lunchtime. Amendments came in throughout the evening on Tuesday, again requiring late nights for some of the team to analyse them and produce a consolidated list for the Committee to consider.
Wednesday morning and, after an 8am meeting with the Chair to discuss the amendments, the Committee began its deliberations at 9am. It had agreed a consensus report by midday (the first time it had reached a consensus on a report since the election).
Next task for us was to prepare the text of the report for publishing, making sure that we had faithfully included all the changes and re-drafts that the Committee had made, and work with the Chair on putting together a press notice to launch the report.
By Friday, we could take a moment to breathe. The report was published on Sunday morning, so a busy weekend for the media team while the rest of us tried to re-charge batteries. An exhausting but exciting week, all set for more excitement in the week to come.
- James Rhys, Clerk of the Committee on Exiting the European Union