Remain Tory MPs must vote with their conscience

Labour Party

“Ignore the will of the people at your peril” is the full-page headline in the Daily Express today, with the union flag emblazoned behind it. The Sun asks if it will be “Great Britain or Great Betrayal”.

The headlines concern the 12-hour debate of the 15 amendments from the House of Lords which will take place inside the House of Commons over the next two days.

Of the 15 amendments the Government is to accept one (a completely tokenistic) amendment which states the UK will be able to choose to stay in EU agencies after Brexit. On three further amendments it is offering compromises and the remainder it will simply vote down.

But the area of paramount importance and which is to be debated this afternoon concerns whether Parliament should have a ‘meaningful’ vote on the final withdrawal agreements.

Pressure has been applied to pro remain MPs who have threatened to vote against the Government. They have been warned they face jeopardising May’s negotiating power in Brussels by both colleagues, and the press (see two of the headlines above). And May issued a final plea calling on them to not undermine her negotiating clout.

The Sun’s rather menacing headline suggests that pro remain MPs would be responsible for an apoplectic situation should they seek to secure Parliament the right to a meaningful vote. They claim it would be a ‘great betrayal’.

I can imagine the pressure the pro remain MPs are under. But a vote that doesn’t involve Parliament in a meaningful way is not sufficient and is not acceptable. It is crucial that Parliament has a role on one of the most important decisions the UK is going to take in the immediate future.

Furthermore, the kind of promises that were made in the campaign can’t be met. No discussions currently hint at a deal which will match up to what was promised. So, in such circumstances the House of Lords is right to insist there must be a serious parliamentary debate.

The conclusion to this debate might be that the Government seeks an extension to the negotiating period or that the question should be put to the people again or that it withdraws notification of the intention to leave the European Union which can be done up until the 29 March 2019. All of these scenarios are entirely plausible.

Whatever happens in the next two days Parliament must get its say before the die is cast.

All MPs must search their conscience and do the right thing so that Parliament has a sincere voice and the authority to scrutinise the negotiations going forward.

House of Lords ensures parliamentary scrutiny for any EU withdrawal deal

Labour Party

Last night the House of Lords voted to give Parliament a potentially decisive voice over the final shape of Brexit. The vote offered some protection against Britain crashing out of the EU without any deal.

Yesterday’s amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill avoids a “no deal” scenario and also means David Davis and Theresa May would be expected to return to Brussels and re-open negotiations if  Parliament rejected a deal. Though some commentators are sceptical as to whether the UK will even reach this point, the Lords vote ensures Parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations.

Shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer said it is right Parliament is given the opportunity to properly scrutinise the deal and that at no point should Theresa May “be given a blank cheque to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal.”

Meanwhile those opposed to the amendment said it undermines the Government’s authority and ability to negotiate with Brussels. I believe it’s a sensible and rational amendment which restricts Government from taking decisions which will affect the country for generations to come. It is right and just that Parliament can participate in the Brexit negotiations in a meaningful way.

It ensures that our future relationship is determined by Parliament and not by the Government.

Peers backed the amendment to the Withdrawal Bill by 335 to 244.

 

Parliamentary log jam on Brexit legislation

Labour Party

A parliamentary log jam is going to affect the ability for the government to pass important legislation relating to Brexit, according to the Guardian.

Its report revealed today that almost half the legislation required for Parliament to vote on the final Brexit deal has yet to be introduced.

Despite Parliament sitting for 123 days since the last election it has yet to pass a single piece of related legislation. There are only a further 80 days where Parliament will sit before MPs are expected to vote on the final deal scheduled for October this year.

The obvious problem is that Parliament will be asked to vote on a deal which it has little knowledge of because it won’t have approved any of the crucial legislation. It’s completely unacceptable that MPs will be expected to vote on a deal that they do not have the full details of because it won’t have been finalised! It just doesn’t seem feasible to expect Parliament to commit to such a vote which can’t possibly be meaningful since the government has failed to introduce any vital legislation.

Theresa May promised this parliament would be a “busy legislative session” and yet, as the Guardian report points out, just four pieces of legislation have been passed from the Queen’s speech which is half the amount at the same point following the 2010 election.

You can read the Guardian’s full report here.

UK Economy to be hit – leaked document reveals

Labour Party

Every sector of the UK economy will be hit following Brexit a leaked Government document has warned. The paper, drawn up by the Department for Exiting
the EU, revealed that growth in the UK could be up to 8% lower than if it
stayed in the EU.

In many ways it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, only last week
Chancellor Philip Hammond painted his own bleak picture when he said that
UK economies could move “only modestly” after Brexit.

And the very best the International Trade Secretary could offer was to
tell people to effectively put up or shut up in relation to the economic
forecasts. He told the Sun Newspaper: “I know there are always
disappointed individuals but they’re going to have to live with
disappointment.”

The leaked paper, entitled EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing,
explains that “growth would be 5% lower if Britain negotiated a free trade
deal and 2% lower even if the UK were to continue to adhere to the rules
of the single market.”

And yet critics of the leaked document say it doesn’t stipulate the
scenario if the UK Government manages to negotiate a special partnership.
They also argue that economic modelling is highly speculative, if that’s
the case then he same must be true in reverse.

With the negotiations in utter chaos, as evidenced by the Brexit Secretary
who gave woeful evidence last week before the Brexit Committee, a special
relationship is a long way off if at all achievable.

Over the next two days the House of Lords will debate the EU Withdrawal
Bill – some 200 peers are hoping to speak, it has been reported. It will
rightly face tough and rigorous scrutiny and its passage through the
chamber will not be an easy ride.

A raft of profound concerns on Brexit emerge over weekend

Labour Party

Defence, security and cooperation between France and the UK are all under threat if Britain leaves the European Union the former Ambassador to France has advised.

Lord Ricketts, who was the UK’s Ambassador to France until 2016 warned the UK will have to work harder on its relationship to ensure the two countries don’t drift.

But this was not the only deeply worrying concern to be voiced over the weekend. There were also concerns raised from campaigners and MPs who warned that leaving the EU without a deal could seriously jeopardise the efforts to combat anti trafficking.

Safe guards for those at risk will be removed; Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International warned that if the UK loses access to key institutions which help to combat slavery then it will impact on the ability to dismantle trafficking networks.

We all know that access to Europol and the European Arrest Warrant is key to combatting this crime and having this access is key to fighting it Jakub warned.

And in a letter published by the Observer organisations including Amnesty International, Liberty the Fawcett Society and the National Aids Trust voiced their concerns over the EU Withdrawal Bill. They warned that the EU Withdrawal Bill will not protect people’s rights in the UK as the Government promised. The letter states: “This is in large part because the bill removes the EU charter of fundamental rights from our law.”

The common theme of the profound concerns raised by the various individuals and organisations named above is that if Britain leaves the European Union then its citizens become vulnerable; economically in terms of defence and security as well as protecting and safe guarding citizens’ rights. But especially in terms of protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.

Acting in such a solitary way will be harmful, destructive and encourages us to drift- but to where? And for what benefit when we have such structures and strategic relationships working so well.