Tag Archives: house of commons

WATCH: Tom Brake’s speech in Brexit Bill debate: This Bill must be resisted at every turn

Tom Brake spoke for the Lib Dems in the Commons debate on the Brexit Bill today. Watch in full here. The text is below.

There were some excellent speeches after the Secretary of State’s. Things went slight downhill after that but things started to look up with the maiden speech by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield). I have just one slight criticism: she did not mention Barham in her list of villages, which is one I know very well. I thank the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) for his speech and his reference to the monstrosity that is this Bill.

The Liberal Democrats believe that Parliament must be given comprehensive sovereignty and scrutiny over this process. This opinion is widely supported, not just by many Members on both sides of this House but organisations such as the Law Society, which states that the Bill

“must respect parliament’s role in making and approving changes to UK law”.

Parliament must drive the future of the United Kingdom and of Brexit, not Ministers using executive—indeed dictatorial—powers to exercise total control over the legislative process. The Government’s decision to provide just two days for Second Reading means that Members will have just five minutes in which to make their points and eight days in Committee for a Bill that unravels 40 years of closer EU co-operation, shows the extent to which Parliament is held in contempt by Ministers.

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Tom Brake’s quiet revolution – but there’s so much more that should change about the Commons

Tom Brake achieved a bit of a baby step towards the 21st Century for MPs this week when he had the audacity to ask a Minister a question while not wearing a tie. Heaven forfend!

Conservative MP Peter Bone grassed him up to the Speaker and asked if the rules had changed. John Bercow replied that as long as the attire was “business-like” it was fine. No tie was necessary.

 So far as the Chair is concerned, I must say to the hon. Gentleman, although I fear this will gravely disquiet him, that it seems to me that as long as a Member arrives in the House in what might be thought to be business-like attire, the question of whether that Member is wearing a tie is not absolutely front and centre stage. So am I minded not to call a Member simply because that Member is not wearing a tie? No. I think there has always been some discretion for the Chair to decide what is seemly and proper. Members should not behave in a way that is disrespectful of their colleagues or of the institution, but do I think it is essential that a Member wears a tie? No. Opinions on the hon. Gentleman’s choice of ties do tend to vary, and it has to be said that the same could be said of my own.

This is of course not the first time that Lib Dem MPs have been at the forefront of such change. It was Duncan Hames who took his baby son through the division lobby back in 2014.

So that’s all well and good, but what about addressing some of the bigger issues about the way the Commons operates? There is so much else that needs to change to bring the Parliament closer to the people. Anyone watching the proceedings for the first time would not feel that they had any relevance in the real world.

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Kenneth Clarke’s speech in the Article 50 debate

Today, MPs began debating amendments to the Government’s White Paper entitled “The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union” in the Committee stage. We publish this speech from Kenneth Clarke (from last week’s Article 50 Commons debate) in the hope of putting some “backbone” (Alistair Campbell‘s word) into MPs as they contemplate a national cordless bungee jump into a dark abyss.

We don’t normally publish speeches by Conservatives, but this one has a particularly good section about Alice in Wonderland, and an excellent ending, referring to Burke:

I am very fortunate to be called this early. I apologise to my right hon. Friend—my old friend—but 93 other Members are still waiting to be called, so if he will forgive me, I will not give way.

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Tom Brake’s speech in the Article 50 debate

The final Liberal Democrat contribution in the Article 50 debate came from Tom Brake. We have published all the others as it is important for us all to be aware of what our MPs did and said on this most momentous of decisions.

I hope that I am wrong, but I believe that the decision that the country took on 23 June will result in the biggest self-inflicted wound since our disastrous intervention in Iraq. That wound is festering and it will leave the UK permanently economically weaker, even after it has healed. I believe that, when Members of Parliament believe that a course of action is going to be a catastrophe, they have a duty to harry, assail and oppose the Government, not to acquiesce.

I respect those who voted to leave. They had, and have, genuine grievances about a lack of jobs or education prospects, and concerns about the changes they see in our society, including concerns about immigration. The Brexiteers claimed that leaving the EU would address those concerns by stopping the cancellation of urgent hospital operations—paid for, presumably, by the tsunami of cash that was going to come to the NHS post-Brexit—improving teacher shortages in our schools and boosting housing supply. It will not do any of those things. In fact, it will make them worse. I doubt that even the leave campaign’s most prominent pledge, to reduce immigration substantially, will be achieved. Why would it be? After all, the Prime Minister has spent many years seeking to reduce the level of non-EU immigration, and nothing changed there.

What leaving the EU will do with certainty is diminish us as a nation and reduce our influence and international standing. That has already happened. Brexit has forced our Prime Minister, a born-again hard-line Brexiteer, to line up with Trump—indeed, to walk hand in hand with him. While European leaders and Canada condemned his Muslim ban, our Prime Minister’s initial response was to say, “Not my business.” Worse, she immediately offered him, with indecent haste, a state visit—far quicker than any other US President—which I am sure had absolutely nothing to do with her desperation to secure a trade deal, any deal, with the protectionist Trump.

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ICYMI: Sarah Olney’s speech in the Article 50 debate: We can’t build country without fear & poverty by turning our back on our neighbours

When I think of the country that I would like my generation to give to our children, I think of a country that lives without fear, poverty and inequality, but we cannot build that world by turning our back on our neighbours, closing the door to our friends, turning a blind eye to tyranny or walking hand in hand with intolerance.

Sarah Olney has got the hang of making great speeches in the House of Commons pretty quickly. In the Article 50 debate, she spoke from the heart while revealing the obfuscation of the Government as they try to deny people the true information about the consequences of Brexit. Here is her speech in full:

In this country, we have settled, through a process of trial and error, on a system of parliamentary democracy as the most effective form of governance. The importance of Parliament’s role was once again asserted by the Supreme Court last week. The responsibility of parliamentarians is clear: to take decisions in the best interests of the country with particular regard for the needs of their constituents. I believe that leaving the European Union will be hugely damaging for this country; the British people, through the referendum, narrowly expressed a different view. It is now up to Parliament to take account of the result of the referendum and decide what is in the best interests of the country.

There is no evidence, and none has been presented, that the best interests of the country will be served by the immediate triggering of article 50 and the pursuit of the hardest Brexit possible. It seems to me an abdication of responsibility to say that the only factor that can be considered in deciding whether to trigger article 50 is the result of the referendum. “The will of the people” cannot be tied down to one single point and be presumed never to change or waver. It should not be assumed that the decision of a narrow majority of people, willing and entitled to express a view on 23 June, should be the only thing to determine the fate of the whole population for now and many decades into the future. This is not the end of the debate; it is only the beginning.

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In full: Tim Farron’s speech in the Article 50 debate

Tim Farron spoke in the Commons debate on Article 50 this afternoon. Here is his speech in full:

She is not in her place now, but I want to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) for her excellent maiden speech.

Liberal Democrats have always been proud internationalists. It was the Liberals who backed Winston Churchill’s European vision in the 1950s, even when his own party did not do so. Since our foundation, we have been champions of Britain’s role in the European Union and fought for co-operation and openness with our neighbours and with our allies. We have always believed that the challenges that Britain faces in the 21st century—climate change, terrorism and economic instability—are best tackled working together as a member of the European Union.

Being proud Europeans is part of our identity as a party, and it is part of my personal identity too. Personally, I was utterly gutted by the result. Some on the centre left are squeamish about patriotism; I am not. I am very proud of my identity as a northerner, as an Englishman, as a Brit, and as a European—all those things are consistent. My identity did not change on 24 June, and neither did my values, my beliefs, or what I believe is right for this country and for future generations. I respect the outcome of the referendum. The vote was clear—close, but clear—and I accept it.

But voting for departure is not the same as voting for a destination. Yes, a narrow majority voted to leave the EU, but the leave campaign had no plans, no instructions, no prospectus and no vision. No one in this Government, no one in this House and no one in this country has any idea of what the deal the Prime Minister will negotiate with Europe will be—it is completely unknown. How, then, can anyone pretend that this undiscussed, unwritten, un-negotiated deal in any way has the backing of the British people? The deal must be put to the British people for them to have their say. That is the only way to hold the Government to account for the monumental decisions they will have to take over the next two years.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 49 Comments

ICYMI: Nick Clegg’s brilliant speech on Article 50 Bill

I am so proud of Nick Clegg who made one of the speeches of his life, and one of the best I have ever heard in Parliament, in the Article 50 Bill yesterday. You would hope that such a momentous decision would bring out the best in our MPs.  It certainly did for Nick whose oratory was mature, passionate, honest and searingly critical of a Government acting in its party’s, not the national interest, Watch it here.

The full text, including the interventions, is below:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments
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