This is because the power of the House of Lords is limited, so that in practice legislation can only be delayed by the ‘lords’ and not rejected. Amendments from the House of Lords can also be swept off the table by the House of Commons, where Johnson now has a clear and loyal majority.
It is a standing practice that the House of Lords will agree to this in the second instance, because the House of Commons has been elected by the people and the House of Lords has not.
The expectation is that within two weeks everything can be done and the queen can put her signature under the Brexit Act. At that time, it is 100 percent certain that the British will leave the EU on 31 January.
The most important thing the Brexit Act does is to transpose the Brexit deal between the EU and the UK into national legislation.
The Brexit deal regulates how much the UK still has to pay to the EU after the Brexit, the rights of EU citizens in the UK (and vice versa) after the Brexit, the establishment of a transitional period and how the border between Northern Ireland (UK) and Ireland (EU) can remain open.
All these matters must be transposed into national legislation that is in line with the text of the Brexit deal. But the law goes further than just converting the deal into national law.
For example, it also states that the government may not extend the transition period, which in principle runs until December 2020.
Once the British have left the EU on 31 January, nothing is apparently going to change for a while. The transition period will then take effect immediately. During that transitional period, we actually act as if the UK is still part of the EU for a while.
This means that all EU rules will continue to apply.
The intention is to use that time to make new agreements with the EU about how we will treat each other after the Brexit. The most important thing: negotiating a trade agreement.
In that trade agreement, the EU and the UK must make agreements on, for example, standards that products that are traded must meet, import tariffs, controls, environmental rules, state aid rules: you name it.
That promises to be a huge job. Normally, negotiating a free trade agreement takes many years. Now that should be done in less than a year.
A major advantage, of course, is that the rules in the EU and the UK are in fact still the same on all relevant fronts if the agreement should enter into force, but the UK wants to have the room to deviate from all kinds of EU rules. rules, otherwise they might as well have remained an EU member.
Quick end to negotiations
Anyway: the negotiations will have to be conducted quickly. The transitional period can be extended by a maximum of two years, but Johnson therefore stipulates that the British government will not ask for this.
If there is a need for it and Johnson wants to return on his steps, there is another way to change the law, but the signal is clear: the UK does not want the trial to be extended any longer.
In the months after 31 January, it must become clear whether the parties are on schedule to close a deal on time. If the British do want a postponement, they have to apply for it by 1 July at the latest, as agreed.