EU WITHDRAWAL BILL PASSES
AFTER 2 YEARS, STEP ONE IS COMPLETE
Yesterday the EU Withdrawal Bill was finally passed in the House of Commons, then in the House of Lords, and it has now gone to Her Majesty the Queen for royal assent.
The Bill was the subject of hundreds of amendments, the last significant one of which was defeated yesterday in the Commons by a majority of 16 votes. There were 6 arch-Remainers from the Conservative side who voted against the government in the division: Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Phillip Lee, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.
On the Labour side there were four rebels who backed the government: Frank Field, Kate Hoey, John Mann, and Graham Stringer. Seven other Labour MPs abstained.
WHAT WAS THE FINAL COMPROMISE?
A statement was issued yesterday afternoon by Brexit Secretary David Davis saying that the government will issue a statement on which MPs will have a vote “in neutral terms” if the proposed UK-EU Brexit deal is voted down, or if no deal has been reached by 21 January 2019.
However the statement made specific reference to the role of the Speaker, ardent Remainer John Bercow, in determining whether the statement is on neutral terms. This opens the door to MPs to call for House Rules to be suspended in order for them to be able to amend the statement.
In theory this could result in a series of subsequent votes instructing the government what to do.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
The last two weeks have been for political wonks who rejoice in parliamentary procedures.
Theresa May’s summary was as follows:
“Today’s votes show people in the UK, and to the EU, that the elected representatives in this country are getting on with the job, and delivering on the will of the British people.
“Over the next few weeks we will publish more details of our proposed future relationship with the EU in a White Paper, and will bring the Trade and Customs Bills back to the House of Commons.
“But today has been an important step in delivering the Brexit people voted for, a Brexit that gives Britain a brighter future, a Britain in control of its money, laws, and borders.”
We regret to say that Mrs May’s statement at the Policy Exchange is simply untrue.
FIRSTLY, it has taken the government an agonizing two years since the Referendum to get to the point of passing the first major Bill which will transfer EU law into UK law on the formal exit day – still set as 29th March next year.
SECONDLY, on that official date, the UK will not have truly left the EU in any shape or form. We will continue to have our laws made in Brussels, we will continue to be subject to the Court of Justice of the EU, we will continue to pay full annual contributions to the EU, we will continue to be unable to trade as we wish with the rest of the world, and we will continue to have to let into the country an unlimited number of EU immigrants.
AND THIRDLY on top of all that, the UK will no longer have a say or a vote in any decision-making bodies in the European Union, up to and including the EU Council.
An enormous amount of parliamentary time, TV and radio air-time, and newspaper column inches have been expended on a Bill which still leaves the UK effectively in the EU as a vassal state.
On Saturday millions of Britons will be celebrating Independence Day – the second anniversary of the EU Referendum on 23rd June 2016.
Whilst this is a day to be celebrated, we are compelled to say that the delivery of what the people voted for has been little short of an unmitigated disaster. We will write more on this tomorrow.[Source: Hansard] 06.55am, 21 June 2018