My vote on the EU (Withdrawal) Great Repeal Bill
I am writing to justify my vote on Monday 11th September 2017 and to explain my position and thoughts on the Great EU Repeal Bill.
It is a matter of record that I personally voted to Remain in the European Union, but I have always respected the decision of the British people and, of course, the views of the majority of my constituents in East Durham that Britain should leave the EU. Labour’s position is set out clearly in our Manifesto ‘For the Many’ and I personally have never sought to frustrate Labour’s policy and do not intend to block Brexit. Therefore, it is important to realise that this is not the intention of the Labour Party in voting against this particular Bill at 2nd Reading and opting instead for a ‘reasoned amendment’.
Over the last few days and weeks I have received many messages and emails from constituents who have lobbied me to both vote for and against the Bill on Monday. Some put it plainly ‘Don’t block Brexit’, and some have written about the dangers of voting for the Bill and placing so much power in the hands of Ministers.
As a democratic socialist, my natural sympathies are with the latter group. I oppose the so-called ‘Henry VIII’ clauses and proposals set out in this Bill that would allow the Government to side step Parliamentary democracy.
Consistent with Labour’s position on the Customs Union and maintaining access to the Single Market over a transitional period, the Party remains committed to leaving the EU but also wants to maintain protection of the environment, jobs, businesses, the economy and workers’ rights.
That is why it is important to understand that if Parliament is to regain sovereignty as the Leave Campaign insist was one of the key arguments accepted by the majority of the British people, when they voted to Leave the EU, then surely there must be full and proper parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislation that this Government is seeking to repeal. This Bill is not just a “process bill” as the Tories and their friends in the mainstream media would have you believe. Yes European laws enshrined in UK law will need to replaced as we leave the EU but we should not make the mistake of giving Tory Ministers unprecedented executive powers to accept delete or amend far ranging legislation that covers every aspect of our lives including the date the U.K. leaves the EU, paid holiday entitlement, food safety and environmental regulation.
We must not absolve ourselves of Parliamentary scrutiny and hand absolute executive powers to Ministers in what is let us not forget is a Tory minority Government propped up by the DUP with the prospect of them ripping up long fought for and important protections for the workforce, economy, business and environment.
Monday is not about blocking Brexit, which would be against the majority of my constituents’ wishes, but rather about preventing Ministers from escaping proper parliamentary scrutiny. I will be voting against this Repeal Bill.
I will not allow the people of East Durham to be hoodwinked by what is nothing less than a Tory Power Grab Bill.