Tonight, I will be voting in the House of Commons on the EU Withdrawal Bill. The Bill has reached what is called the second reading stage of its passage through Parliament.
The Bill sets out the government’s approach to how Britain will leave the EU and what role Parliament will play in the process. I will be voting against the Bill.
I’ll also be voting against the government’s proposed timetable for Parliament to debate, scrutinise, challenge and to table and vote on amendments to the Bill. The proposed timetable is too short and is a crude attempt to bypass proper Parliamentary scrutiny.
Here are my reasons why:
The Bill is not fit for purpose. It’s fatally flawed. It contains sweeping government ministerial powers that are undemocratic, unaccountable and unnecessary.
It’s a cynical power grab by Theresa May – a power grab from the Parliament and MPs that were elected in June. It would give powers to government ministers to alter primary legislation without MPs being able to scrutinise, challenge or vote on the changes. It would sideline Parliament from the making of key decisions and put our crucial legal rights and legal protections at risk.
As an illustration of how extreme these powers are, when Emergency Powers Acts have been passed when the country has been at war or in a state of civil emergency, those Acts have been explicit in saying that they don’t give government ministers the power to alter primary legislation. So government ministers should not be given such powers that exclude oversight and accountability in this Bill.
The Bill is also a power grab from the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, weakening the devolution settlements. This is completely the wrong approach.
The Prime Minister has no mandate or majority for her hard Brexit strategy. She called the snap general election in June to get that mandate and she failed. Her belligerent, inflexible and offensive approach and language has left Britain without allies or good will across Europe and, as a result, the negotiations are in a complete mess.
We were promised by David Davis MP, the Tory Brexit Minister, that by this stage of the process we would be halfway through a large round of global trade trade deals. So how’s that going? So far we’ve achieved absolutely no such deals.
The Tory International Trade Minister Liam Fox MP said that new trade arrangements with the EU would be the “easiest in human history.” That’s nonsense.
Tory MEP Daniel Hannan said in the referendum campaign that “no-one is threatening our place in the single market” but Theresa May has resolutely rejected Britain’s continued membership of the single market and the customs union. This is economic recklessness putting jobs, livelihoods and the future prosperity of the country at great risk.
The Brexit Secretary David Davis described the government’s negotiating strategy as “constructive ambiguity”. I call it short sighted, naive and regressive. His childish attitude might be amusing if these weren’t the most complex and challenging negotiations Britain has faced in decades, the outcome of which will have a real and lasting impact on Cardiff Central, Wales and Britain. This is not a game. This is about protecting democracy and the national interest.