Tag Archives: eu withdrawal bill

From our Lords correspondent: the Bill cometh, but will the building fall down before it can be passed?

And so, the EU Withdrawal Bill came to be debated in the Lords over two days. One hundred and eighty-seven speakers, all heard courteously enough but, at the end of it, it was just the hors d’oeuvres before the real work on the Bill begins.

It seemed to be broadly accepted accepted across the Chamber that the House of Lords does not see its role as stopping Brexit – the lack of an electoral mandate hangs heavy on all corners – and as Dick Newby put it, opening for the Liberal Democrats;

I should

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Dick Newby: Withdrawal Bill exhibits Government’s arrogance and incompetence

As the EU Withdrawal Bill hits the House of Lords, here is Dick Newby’s speech in full:

It is now a year since Your Lordships House began its debate on the Bill triggering Article 50 and 10 months since the Article was triggered.

It is generally agreed that both the withdrawal agreement and the agreement on our future relations with the EU have to be concluded before the end of the year and so we are approximately half way through the entire period available for our exit negotiations. What has been achieved so far?

My Lords, Virtually nothing.

The Government has formally agreed on the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK, but this was something which from day one it said was going to do. It has agreed on a divorce bill – but again the Prime Minister had long been clear the Government was going to do so, even if some members of her Cabinet were not.

And on the status of Northern Ireland it has agreed a form of words which, far from settling the matter, are interpreted in a completely different way in Ireland from the gloss put on them here in London, as I discovered in a range of discussions I had in Dublin last week.

On our future relationship with the EU, beyond bland and meaningless platitudes, we have nothing.

In December we were told that the Cabinet would have agreed on our future trading relationship with the EU during January. Well January has come and virtually gone and there is still no sign of such a decision, or anything approaching one.

And the Prime Minister is now so cowed by a fractious and disunited Cabinet that she daren’t even make a speech on the subject. My Lords there are many Noble Lords in Your Lordships House with longer experience of governments than me, but I doubt whether any of them will have seen a Prime Minister and a Government in such a state of paralysis.

And in the real world, our growth rate has fallen from the highest in the G7 to the lowest, the head of the OBR describes the economy as “weak and stable” and the Government’s own assessments of the impact of Brexit on the economy are uniformly negative.

It is against this background that we begin our consideration of the Withdrawal Bill.  Of course it was never intended to be the Withdrawal Bill. It was supposed to be the Great Repeal Bill. That is until the Commons Clerks object to the use of the word Great. They could equally have objected to the word repeal, because this bill is not a repeal bill. It is a transfer bill, taking the whole bulk of existing EU legislation and turning it into domestic legislation.

ML whilst it is easy to dismiss the kerfuffle about the Bill’s title with a smile, it is very revealing of the Government’s overall approach to the Brexit process. It can be characterised as a combination of arrogance and incompetence which is now threatening the future of our country. And the background ticking of the clock is getting louder by the day. 

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Lib Dem Amendment for people’s vote on Brexit deal defeated

Last night, the House of Commons voted on Amendment 120 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, whether people should be given a vote on the final Brexit deal.

It was defeated, with 23 for and 319 against – most of Labour didn’t vote!

You can watch Wera Hobhouse’s passionate speech for giving people a say on the Brexit deal here.

And Tom Brake’s speech here.

Commenting on the vote, LibDem Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

This is a shameful showing from the Labour party. They are meant to be opposing the government, but instead they

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: MPs deserve a vote on the final Brexit plan not a vague sketch

Nick Clegg’s latest iNews column casts a depressing eye over the debate over the EU Withdrawal Bill this week.

First of all, he looks at the ridiculous date of exit issue:

Putting the Brexit date – March 29th 2019 – into legislation is a particularly specious gesture. It may act as catnip to the increasingly agitated Brexiteers, but to our European partners the sight of the British government shutting down the possibility of extending the Brexit talks must look absurd. As they know, and as I do from my time working in the EU, deadlines can be, and are, frequently missed. And the suggestion from the Government that if MPs have the temerity to reject the Brexit deal they will be responsible for the chaos of no deal is as thuggish as it is misleading – if MPs were to reject a bad deal, the EU would pause the Article 50 timetable rather than push us over the edge of the Brexit cliff.

The whole idea of a meaningful vote on a deal is also ridiculous as we won’t have a deal about our future relationship with the EU before we formally leave. As Nick puts it:

So there is now a high likelihood that MPs will be asked to give their consent to Britain’s departure from the EU before knowing the detail of our future relationship with the EU. It will be like buying a house on the basis of a few grainy photos from a dodgy estate agent who won’t allow you to visit the inside. ‘Members of Parliament must hold firm and reject the government’s tactics’ On a recent trip to Brussels, it was made quite clear to me that the two negotiating teams are aiming for no more than a “heads of agreement” deal by the time Britain reaches its Article 50 deadline. This means that David Davis will return with little more than an outline of detail-free pledges on areas like security and combating terrorism, and a vague promise to strike a Canada-style free trade agreement

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EU withdrawal bill debate “pointless and dangerous political ploy”

Tom Brake had this to say as the House of Commons debated the first batch of line by line amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill:

Today the Prime Minister’s desperate attempt to buy off her hard Brexit supporters with red meat has been found out for what it is; a pointless and dangerous political ploy which has no legislative coherence and boxes the UK into an arbitrary timetable. This will only make our negotiations harder, limit our room for manoeuvre and increase the risk of No Deal.

It has been rightly and resoundingly rubbished by both sides of the House.

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Tom Brake MP writes…If you care about Brexit, read this…

Some of you might have received an email from me on Thursday night about the EU Withdrawal Bill. If you didn’t, then please continue reading.

When people voted in the EU referendum last year, nobody really knew what a future deal with the European Union might look like.

16 months on it is now clearer than ever that no deal will be anywhere near as good a deal as the one we have now. To top that off, a catastrophic “no deal” scenario is becoming likelier than ever.

The chaos and uncertainty are leading to job losses and higher prices across the UK.

That is why the Liberal Democrats believe the people deserve the final say on any Brexit deal in a referendum. And if the public doesn’t like it, we should have the option to remain in the European Union.

In two weeks’ time, MPs will be debating amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. The Government’s majority is wafer thin – and if MPs from all parties work together, there’s a real chance we can defeat them and at the very least, stop them from pursuing a hard Brexit.

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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.

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