EU Withdrawal Bill: This isn’t over yet

Anyone feeling a bit jaded after today’s events in Parliament?

I mean, honestly, you have at the start of the day a very smug Arron Banks blithely telling anyone who would listen that Leave.EU “led people up the garden path” (that’s lied to you and I).

A few hours later, at the other side of the Parliamentary Estate, MPs fail to adequately hold the Government to account on their atrocious, democracy-undermining, devolution-busting disaster of an EU Withdrawal Bill.

The day had started quite promisingly with the resignation of a Government Minister who then proceeded to buy the Govenrment’s concession and abstained in the end.

So we’ve ended the day with all the Lords improvements to the Brexit Bill discussed today in tatters. Potential Tory rebels, except Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke, bought the line that the Government would bring a something to the Lords that would satisfy their concerns on the “meaningful vote” issue. So if the Government doesn’t deliver, the Commons has now got rid of the Lords amendment and those wavering Tory MPs will not be able to do anything about it.

Good job that we know a man with a plan. Our Paul Tyler tweeted:

The Lords had stripped several layers of ghastly out of the Bill. Their amendments had given more power to Parliament and less to the Government. MPs have now voted to remove those powers. We’ll have to see whether the Lords is up for a fight, now. They might just cave in to the Government on the basis that it’s not a good look for unelected peers to stop a Government Bill going through. I think that when the future prosperity of the country is at stake, the revising chamber should do its job and make sure our laws are fit for purpose and enhance, rather than undermine our democracy.

I was particularly annoyed by all the faffing about of the Parliamentary voting procedure. At Holyrood, you just press a button to vote and the Presiding Officer reads out the result a few seconds later. Very occasionally, it goes wrong, as former Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale found to her cost last year. But it’s fast, and faff-free. MPs could have had several hours’ more debating time if they had a more modern way of voting. I do hope that once they move out for the repairs, that they’ll move into the 20th century from the 18th.

Again, Scottish Tory MPs let Scotland down by failing to support amendments on devolution. These people give Theresa May her majority, yet they never use the power that they have to make the Government do sensible things, as Christine Jardine pointed out, accusing them of cowardice:

On this, the most pivotal of legislation, the Scottish Tories have effectively tried to silence MPs and the constituents they represent.

Just 12 hours of debate is an insult. They have shown complete contempt for parliament and the devolution settlement. It is yet further evidence that Theresa May is running scared of scrutiny and cannot be trusted.

The Liberal Democrats offer a way out of this Brexit shambles. We offer an opportunity to Exit from Brexit by giving people the final say on the deal

Tom Brake talked about an “outrageous” power grab:

This may sound like procedural waffle but the granting of these powers should spread alarm amongst the public. Giving ministers the power to alter laws without sufficient scrutiny is not democratic.

Theresa May is leading us down the path of a disastrous hard-Brexit. We have to stand up for democracy, and against this outrageous power grab.

The best way to stop the Prime Minister in her tracks is by taking power from her and giving the people the final say on Brexit, including the option to remain.

There are more votes tomorrow, on the singe market and the customs union but I’d not advise any holding of breath waiting for Government defeats. Labour has made sure of that by putting up its own nonsensical amendment to hide its divisions.

The battle will then return to the House of Lords where we hope that common sense will again prevail.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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32 Comments

  • Scottish Tory MP’s may be the focus for this article, perhaps due to being first competition in Scotland, but, I understand, Labour MP’s abstained and thus showed that the two main parties care more about the future of their parties rather than the future of the Union and Countries which help make it.

    Caroline Lucas has put up a fantastic series of tweets tonight to show how devolution was pushed aside tonight even by continuing to vote on a matter which couldn’t ever lead to an outcome because it relied on a previous vote earlier in the night already won by the government.

    I completely agree with voting systems need to change to modernise Westminster but a change of focus too so that Celtic nations aren’t always going to be an afterthought crammed into the end of the night, if at all.

  • “I do hope that once they move out for the repairs, that they’ll move into the 20th century from the 18th.”
    Or even the 21st century??

  • Peter Martin 13th Jun '18 - 6:39am

    I suppose its natural that we should have yet more vigorous debate, after previous vigorous debate about Brexit because, well, we are mainly British.

    But it’s also worth taking a look, now and again, at just what we may, or may not, be Brexiting from. The situation in Italy is much worse than generally supposed. If this article is anything to go by there may not be anything left to Brexit from in March 2019 or whenever the leaving date is changed to. My guess is that the author will be be proved wrong and the ECB will rescue Italy. There’s no other option for the EU if it wants to survive.

    But it’s going to be expensive and messy. Everyone, even the UK (if we stay), will be asked to underwrite and contribute to the cost. More worrying than the cost, is the lack of any EU resolve to fix the problem in Italy, with other countries likely to be in the same position before too long. For example, the author of this piece understands the seriousness of the crisis but despite previously using the phrase “the time to act is now”, which he seems to have recently edited out, he doesn’t seem to offer any suggestions on what to do. He can’t do much better than a “we shouldn’t be starting from here” argument which is evident in the title.

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/italy-never-should-have-joined-the-euro-and-the-ecb-cant-rescue-it-from-its-next-crisis-2018-06-11

  • The crux of all this is the future trading relationship Britain has with the EU. Parliament may not be able to force this government to stay within a customs union or single market, but events will. Yesterday was disappointing but the fact remains that only close alignment with the EU will prevent a hard border in Ireland and possibly a break up of the UK. Incidentally, what are we going to call this new country which ends at Carlisle and Hollyhead ?

  • Peter Martin 13th Jun '18 - 7:06am

    Maybe the Govt needs to call in Ms Hayley Hughes to sort out the mess? Ms Hughes admits she doesn’t know what Brexit is and asks “Does it mean it’ll be harder to go on holidays?”

    At least she won’t be burdened with any pre-conceived ideas!

    http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/love-island/news/a859099/love-island-hayley-hughes-girls-brexit-debate/

  • William Fowler 13th Jun '18 - 7:19am

    Given that the EU almost destroyed the banking system in Cyprus not sure how they can justify saving a similar mess in one of the bigger countries but they will probably fudge it via QE and shoring up the banks’ finances – if you have big enough pockets and a long enough timeline you can actually get your money back out of the most dismal fiscal mess. Probably be an excuse for further integration of the financial system re getting rid of individual countries’ bonds in favour of a singular EU bond, further tightening Germanic fiscal control. The EU loves power if nothing else.

    If the UK is lucky the EU mandarins will be so distracted by keeping Italy in one piece that they may get rid of the UK problem without too much meanness.

  • Phil Boothroyd 13th Jun '18 - 8:27am

    “Incidentally, what are we going to call this new country which ends at Carlisle and Hollyhead ?”

    I’m thinking the ‘Fragmented Kingdom’ – or ‘FK’ for short. To give a nod to those that wanted to take back control we could call it ‘Our Fragmented Kingdom’ or ‘O FK’. It seems to fit quite well.

  • The reason for Brexit Peter keeps trotting out is the EU is failing we must run away. I mean Gert Wilders will be running Holland (he isn’t), Greece will leave the EU (they havn’t), Le Pen will be the President of France (she isn’t) and now Italy is in a mess. Beset with all these problems the EU keeps trundling along and I expect they will long after we have left but we will still have the odd Brexiteer proclaiming “The End of the EU is nigh, we must run away”. The sad thing is even if Peter’s dream comes to pass the consequences of an imploding EU will roll around the world and we will find we havn’t actually run anywhere.

  • Holyhead, please!

  • John Probert 13th Jun '18 - 9:36am

    “Incidentally, what are we going to call this new country which ends at Carlisle and Hollyhead ?” (Phil Boothroyd).

    Let’s call it “Little Britain”. You know it makes sense.

  • The Lords had stripped several layers of ghastly out of the Bill. Their amendments had given more power to Parliament and less to the Government. MPs have now voted to remove those powers.

    So it’s business as usual in the HoC, tellingly it does seem that whilst Parliament is sovereign, its members don’t want the responsibility and would rather let the ‘monarch’ ie. the executive, make the decisions; exactly the same behaviour as we witnessed over several decades that ultimately resulted in the referendum…
    Perhaps it is not HoL reform the LibDems should be calling for but HoC reform…

  • Let’s call it “Little Britain”. You know it makes sense

    The French would probably object to that, just like the Greeks and Macedonia. You can’t just go around using names that are already names fr part of another country, apparently.

  • paul barker 13th Jun '18 - 2:07pm

    May won by making firm promises to both sides. As Laura Kuensberg has pointed out, May has bought time at the cost of deepening divisions in her Party.

  • Anne Cunningham 13th Jun '18 - 2:33pm

    It is tragic that the political posturing of the Lib Dems against the SNP is more important to them than the future of Scotland. Post the Brexit vote, they declared their support for Sturgeon only to change their stance later. As for the Power Grab – Rennie must be reeling from the lack of support from even his own MPs. Where were they last night and during PMQs today when Blackford was, yet again, speaking on behalf of the Scottish Parliament and four of the five parties therein? Branch office Labour and Lib Dem MPs didn’t have the balls to walk out too. They have let down Scotland, and their own constituents, badly.

  • nvelope2003 13th Jun '18 - 3:01pm

    Dav: – The Greeks have now agreed that Macedonia can be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia

  • WilliamFowler 13th Jun '18 - 3:15pm

    If it is just Wales and England left, Waland or WaWaLand sounds about right…

  • The Greeks have now agreed that Macedonia can be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia

    After 27 years. I don’t think 27 years of negotiation to call ourselves ‘North Little Britain’ is a good idea.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jun '18 - 3:59pm

    I watched government minister Claire Perry yesterday on the Parliament Channel. After making a statement of government policy she started to state Labour Party policy as she understood it, Before she explained her disagreements with her perception of another party’s policy the Speaker intervened. He used the word “dilation”. She said that she was unused to the word except in the context of giving birth and tried to continue her speech.
    The Speaker used the word again. He did not refer to a dictionary when doing so, but the Concise Oxford Dictionary gives “expatiate, speak or write at large”. I understood him to be saying that what she was saying was irrelevant because it was not an answer to a question about government policy.
    She has accused him of being sexist, of being unfair to government ministers in the frequency of his criticisms and misrepresented him as being primarily critical of the use of time.
    There was a three hour timetable motion yesterday, voted on by the House, and many other MPs complained about the lack of time. John Bercow has not been willing to criticise this Prime Minister (sadly not) but he did once call another MP and prevented her predecessor from continuing. The PM said “I have not finished” John Bercow said “He has finished and he can take it from ME that he has finished”.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jun '18 - 4:07pm

    Caron Lindsay Tue 12th June 2018 – 9:49 pm: “devolution-busting disaster of an EU Withdrawal Bill”
    Please, what action in Lib Dem and other MSPs make at Holyrood?
    As the SNP does not now have an overall majority did we vote with the SNP or with the Scottish Conservatives?
    What are the issues that matter most to Scottish / SNP interests which do not prevent the coalition government in Wales from agreeing?

  • Although comments made here in jest about break up of UK the fact that question suggests we’ll be one country rather than a union of two/three countries again shows ignorance of our United Kingdom. Brexit is being used to undermine Celtic nations and anyone who cares about the Union should be outraged.

  • Little Jackie Paper 13th Jun '18 - 5:51pm

    Little Jackie Paper – The Republic of Macedonia issue is probably the most under-reported story in Europe right now.

    There is an awful lot going on there that just doesn’t get any attention.

  • Little Jackie Paper 13th Jun '18 - 5:52pm

    Sorry that should have said Dav. Too long a day!

  • David Becket 13th Jun '18 - 7:04pm

    Our MPs should have walked out with the SNP.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jun '18 - 7:51pm

    On 12/6/2018 the Speaker was surprised by some MPs calling for a vote. The dilation of his eyes will not be recorded in Hansard, but the extra time taken is relevant to the arguments about lack of debate.

  • David Raw 13th Jun ’18 – 8:34pm……………My Dad said it years ago, “Never trust the Tories”…..

    Even some Tories (Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen, etc.) might, after May’s behavior over the last two days, agree with your dad.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th Jun '18 - 9:46pm

    @Richard Underhill – we voted with the SNP in favour of their Continuity Bill at Holyrood.

  • Jayne mansfield 13th Jun '18 - 10:40pm

    @ David Beckett,

    I fully agree.

    @ David Raw,

    “Never trust the Tories” Sadly this wisdom was lost.

  • Jayne,
    The wisdom of “Never trust a Tory” wasn’t lost it was disregarded by those that knew better. Unfortunately for them after putting their trust in the Tories it all went horribly wrong. I’d like to think they have learned their lesson but I fear too many of them still think they know better and next time it will be different.

  • David,
    On the up side while they may have got their baubbles and gongs at least the beat of the “We know best , everything will be Ok” has faded away. Reality hit the Lib Dems, I’d like to hope we are the better for it. I may be nieve but I’d like to think the Laws/Alexander/Clegg experiment will never be repeated (at least in my life time). We are at our best when we stand with the people and are worse when we stand with the elite, something I’m afraid we forgot as soon as we jumped into bed with the Tories.

  • If you look very hard on the internet (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0212/amend/eu_pro_ccla_0612.pdf) you will find that our amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill with the named support of only 22 MPs was discussed but not voted on (on 12th June). It was very weak – as it included the OPTION of an accept the deal or remain in the EU referendum.

    The House of Lords didn’t agree to add a referendum to the EU Withdrawal Bill and the House of Commons didn’t even vote on it. Do people really believe that we can convince about 298 MPs to vote for a referendum on the deal or staying in the EU by say the end of the year so we could have a referendum on at least 21st March 2019? And if they do, how will it be done?

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