Lib Dems offer to vote for EU Withdrawal Bill

The Government seems to be suffering a bit of a lack of votes for the EU Withdrawal Bill.

With rumours circulating in Whitehall that the Bill has now been pushed beyond the November recess, our Tom Brake has written to David Davis, offering him a wee bit of a helping hand. .

Mr Brake will be willing to work with the Secretary of State to smooth the Bill’s passage through Parliament. However, there are strings attached. He wants Government support for a number of critical Liberal Democrat amendments.

These include:

  • Maintaining EU citizens’ rights
  • Ensuring the Good Friday Agreement is not undone
  • A referendum on the final deal

Tom said:

It is clear the Government no longer have a majority on this Bill. To ease the Government’s pain and to provide some direction to their Marie Celeste of a Bill, I will be willing to work constructively with David Davis to improve the Bill.

This would be in return for the Secretary of State supporting some critical Lib Dem amendments, including providing for a vote on the final deal and enhanced scrutiny of the Bill.

The full text of Tom’s letter to David Davis is:

Dear David

I am writing to you regarding the Amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill which have been tabled by the Liberal Democrats.

As I am sure you are aware, the Liberal Democrats are greatly concerned that the EU Withdrawal Bill in its current form grants ministers control over legislation with little scrutiny and signals an extreme Brexit on the horizon for the UK, bringing with it economic chaos and confusion for businesses, EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.

The Liberal Democrats however want to hold out an olive branch to the Government and your department and offer to work constructively with you on the Bill to smooth its passage through Parliament.

The Amendments cover a number of the most pressing issues which have arisen as a result of the Government’s policy towards Brexit and this Bill. I have set these issues and the Amendments out below.

Amendment 120 – Referendum on the deal

This Amendment would ensure that the people, not the Government will have the final say on the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU. A referendum on the terms of the deal would give people the opportunity to support the Government’s deal or state that the UK should remain a member of the EU.

Amendments 123, 124 – Customs Union and Single Market membership

These Amendments would ensure that the economy will not face a cliff-edge decline and businesses will be able to continue to freely trade and operate within the EU as they successfully and easily do now. In order to protect our economy, membership of the Customs Union and Single Market is paramount.

Amendment 131 – Maintaining EU citizens’ rights

This Amendment would end the uncertainty on their future which EU citizens are facing as a result of the UK leaving the EU. The Liberal Democrats want to preserve the rights, including residence rights, of all EU citizens lawfully residing in the UK.

Amendments 144, 145, 146, 147 – Good Friday Agreement

The Liberal Democrats recognise that leaving the EU has the potential to undo years of peace and stability between Ireland and Northern Ireland. These Amendments therefore seek to ensure that the EU Withdrawal Bill does not affect any legislation and instead maintains all of the Good Friday Agreement.

Amendments 132, 133, 134, 135, 136 – Devolved authorities

These Amendments protect the rights of devolved authorities and would prevent the Government from overruling these administrations legislating on aspects of EU law.

Amendments 126, 127 – Francovich rights

These Amendments will ensure that the Government must compensate individuals for damage that they have suffered suffer as a result of serious breaches of EU law.

Amendments 121, 128, 129, 130 – Maintaining Parliamentary scrutiny and sovereignty

The EU Withdrawal Bill must not make possible a Ministerial power grab and it must allow people the final say on the terms of the deal.

I trust that you and the Government will work with the Liberal Democrats to secure the best future for the UK as Parliament debates the EU Withdrawal Bill and the relevant legislation which will follow.

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss these Amendments further.

I will contact your office to see whether you would like to follow up my offer.

Yours sincerely

Tom Brake
Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Before we get too excited, there is more chance of me winning the 100 metres at the next Olympics than David Davis agreeing to any of this. But at least it shows willing to salvage something from the looming disaster.

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

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4 Comments

  • I’m losing patience with the lack of resistance from LibDem MPs towards Brexit. I fear that the party will end up spineless and supporting Brexit like Labour has before too long. I had to force myself to vote LD back in June as their anti-Brexit stance then was so weak.

  • This is rediculous. Vote for the bill whatever it says!. Give me strength, we should simply be against it. Clear line understood by all whether you agree or not. People will laugh at us over this letter. No wonder we still only have 12 MPS when we have had 75 or more seat under our control in recent years. Pull yourselves together for goodness sake before we become extinct.

  • Martin Walker 26th Oct '17 - 9:24am

    I don’t understand what this is trying to achieve. Obviously the offer won’t be taken up, so it won’t achieve these, and, on top of the referendum position, it just allows our position on Brexit to be muddied and misrepresented yet further – 6 months after an election where significant numbers of voters who were against Brexit deserted us for a pro-Brexit Party who pretend not to be. What on earth is this going to achieve?

  • Peter Watson 26th Oct '17 - 11:01am

    @Martin Walker “I don’t understand what this is trying to achieve … it just allows our position on Brexit to be muddied and misrepresented”
    I have to agree with you.
    Perhaps to political insiders it looks like a bit of cheekiness. After all, it calls for a second referendum during which Lib Dems would presumably campaign to remain in the EU and discard whatever arose from the amendments the party had supported. Otherwise it looks like Lib Dems being prepared to help ensure a better Brexit, which may not be a bad thing (that’s a different debate!), but it makes the party’s position look less clear.

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