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MPs voted on the European Union (withdrawal) bill at midnight [Image: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images].

Read through the changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill proposed by Dominic Grieve, John Penrose and others, and you will see that they agree with Labour’s reasoned amendment to it.

But they voted down that amendment. Why? Spite?

It seems to This Writer that they simply couldn’t bear to admit that the Bill is no damn good and should be rejected, to be replaced by one that supports the fundamental principles of democracy that the UK brought into the world, rather than scrapping them.

Look at the Labour amendment:

“This House respects the EU referendum result and recognises that the UK will leave the EU, believes that insisting on proper scrutiny of this Bill and its proposed powers is the responsibility of this sovereign Parliament, recognises the need for considered and effective legislation to preserve EU-derived rights, protections and regulations in UK law as the UK leaves the EU but declines to give a Second Reading to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill because the Bill fails to protect and reassert the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty by handing sweeping powers to Government Ministers allowing them to bypass Parliament on key decisions, allows for rights and protections to be reduced or removed through secondary legislation without any meaningful or guaranteed Parliamentary scrutiny, fails to include a presumption of devolution which would allow effective transfer of devolved competencies coming back from the EU to the devolved administrations and makes unnecessary and unjustified alterations to the devolution settlements, fails to provide certainty that rights and protections will be enforced as effectively in the future as they are at present, risks weakening human rights protections by failing to transpose the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law, provides no mechanism for ensuring that the UK does not lag behind the EU in workplace protections and environmental standards in the future and prevents the UK implementing strong transitional arrangements on the same basic terms we currently enjoy, including remaining within a customs union and within the Single Market.”

The Tories agree with most of that.

Of course democracy was undermined by the decision of seven Labour MPs – Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner and Graham Stringer – to back the Bill, claiming that it is the will of the people. Caroline Flint abstained for the same reason.

It is not the will of the people. It was never our will to throw away democracy and let Tory ministers jigger with our rights and protections to suit themselves.

But that’s what Theresa May wants us all to think. Have you heard what she said about the vote?

She called it a “historic decision to back the will of the British people” and said the vote would give clarity and certainty through the Brexit process.

Tripe.

With discussion now to be based on a deeply flawed and fundamentally dictatorial piece of legislation, anybody arguing for democracy will have an extremely difficult time of it, especially with “party within the Tory party” the European Research Group supporting the switch to dictatorship.

The vast majority of UK citizens will have absolutely no right to say anything about what happens next. We just have to watch as, instead of returning democracy to the UK, the Tories hand it over to a tiny number of their own people.

Because this is what we wanted. Right?

Conservative MPs have warned Theresa May that their support for her government’s Brexit legislation is not unconditional, as they demanded significant changes to the EU withdrawal bill within minutes of backing it.

Parliament’s post-midnight vote resulted in the prime minister facing no rebellion from within her party, as the government secured a victory of 326 to 290.

Significantly, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve teamed up with his Tory colleague John Penrose, to warn against a power grab by ministers through so-called Henry VIII powers.

Penrose argues that he and Grieve want two key changes to the bill. First they are calling for a joint committee of the Lords and Commons to scrutinise the government’s planned use of the new powers, which could force parliamentary debates in the few cases where it was thought necessary.

They also want to limit the “wriggle room which ministers are given” during the process.

Grieve also planned to lay down other amendments including calling for a further bill to be required after MPs know what the Brexit deal looks like before this legislation can actually be enacted. He also criticised the removal of safeguards for people or businesses adversely affected by the application of EU law.

Meanwhile, the Brexiter Edward Leigh argued for the government to take a magnanimous approach on Brexit, both inside parliament and towards European allies and to the demands of Scottish politicians.

He said that Brexit supporters had long argued for parliamentary sovereignty called on May to be generous with amendments.

Source: Brexit bill: senior Conservatives warn May after vote for second reading | Politics | The Guardian


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