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Written by Director of The Freedom Association, Rory Broomfield:
Members of Parliament this week once again voted overwhelmingly to invoke Article 50, giving the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (the Brexit Bill) a majority of 372 as it moves onto the House of Lords for consideration.
The Bill was “kept simple” in part due to the excellent work of Steve Baker MP in his initiative “Keep Notification Simple“, which we were happy to support. As a result of the work put in by Steve, along with other MPs, the Bill’s progress seems as certain as it has been. However, problems in the House of Lords may still lie ahead.
As the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has said the House of Lords should do both its job and its patriotic duty in allowing the Bill to go through; however, this is no guarantee of it being passed without amendment.
Despite the will of the elected house being clear, the unelected house is packed full of individuals that might want to create problems for the Government in implementing the expressed wishes of the people. We have to remember that many in the Lords such as Lords Mandelson, Kinnock and Kerr owe part of their careers (if not all of their careers) to the EU and its failing institutions. As a result of them blindly being wed to the notion of EU supremacy, they and others (including Crossbench and Conservative Peers) could well seek a delay in invoking Article 50.
Attempts at delaying the Bill are looking increasingly likely given the continued protests in the Commons over how there was no debate at Report Stage – something that still seems to irke the SNP. Nonetheless, the Leader of the House of Commons, David Lidington, responded correctly to a question from Ian Murray, a Labour MP, at Business Questions by saying:
“The programme motion was very clear that there was provision for a Report stage. Whether there would be debating time for one would, as always, depend on whether amendments had been carried and on how long the House wished to continue to debate the amendments in Committee ahead of a Report stage…
The Government’s position is that we completely respect the constitutional role of the House of Lords. As I said earlier, the House of Lords itself accepts that, as an unelected House, it needs to abide by certain conventions…”
In essence: there was no Report Stage because there was nothing to report.
Although there is still no guarantee that the Lords will honour their own conventions, it isn’t the only thing that those who believe the UK should be free from the EU should be concerned about.
I will write about this more in the near future, however, after the Brexit Bill will come debate over the the Great Repeal Bill. This Bill will seek to translate all EU law onto the UK Statute Books and will be far from simple.
The Government (and Parliament) effectively has two choices: accept all the legislation or none of it. If they accept all of it then that would mean creating a number of agencies in the UK to monitor etc activities that are currently the responsibility of EU agencies. If, however, the Government is bold (and it can be bold) then a repeal of all EU legislation would mean that the UK Parliament, in time, would be engaged in a large debate over what parts of EU law to adopt or to leave. The latter approach would take a large amount of parliamentary time and will have many MPs, especially on the Labour benches, engaging in activities to increase the scope of the state over the lives of individuals in the UK.
As a result, this is not the end of the EU debate. Those that value freedom need to continue to keep the pressure up. As I wrote on the Better Off Out blog last week: the Brexit Bill is merely the end of the beginning.