The UK government’s extraordinary decision on 10 December to delay the “meaningful vote” on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration (WA) has focused attention on 21 January 2019 as a key milestone in the Brexit process, and on the duties imposed on the government by the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, section 13. The crucial question is whether the government’s decision to delay the “meaningful vote” increases the risk of an accidental “no deal” Brexit due to the very short time remaining before expiry of the Article 50 notice on 29 March 2019.

On 11 December Yvette Cooper MP asked an urgent question in the Commons, calling on the Attorney General to provide a written statement setting out the government’s legal interpretation of section 13.