European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Blakesley »

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Key provisions:
  • Provides (introducing a saving) that most provisions (certain provisions which were not repealed with immediate effect) of the 1972 European Communities Act will remain in full legal force and effect, as if they were not yet and never repealed, during an implementation period to last until (by default) 31 March 2020, notwithstanding the (supposed) repeal of the whole act by the automatic operation of Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 on 12 April 2019 at 11:00pm.
  • Enshrines the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU in domestic law including any financial settlement and agreement on citizens' rights.
  • Makes provisions for changes to EU law to be legally binding in the UK during the implementation period (after the UK has left the EU).
  • Makes provisions for Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of the process by primary legislation, instead of secondary legislation under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
  • Section 38(1) explicitly recognises that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is sovereign.
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Sir Arthur S. Stanley (CON)
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Sir Arthur S. Stanley (CON) »

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to lend my full support to the Act which is before the House. But may I first pay tribute to the many members of our House of Commons staff who, in an act of service to this country, have foregone their regular Saturday activities in order to make this special sitting of the House possible so that we can, once and for all, lay aside the question which has been at the forefront of national political discourse for more than the last three years. We too often forget that the important business of government cannot be achieved without the hundreds of members of staff who work every day to make it possible. From the custodial staff to the clerks of the House, Mr. Speaker, we are much obliged to them and I think the entire House will join me in giving them thanks.

Members of this House may recall that I have stood before them on two other occasions to voice my support for a withdrawal agreement put forward by my Rt. Hon. friend, the Prime Minister, after extensive negotiations with the European Union. And in those two statements, I made largely the same claim: that the deals were far from perfect, but that they were strong first steps towards re-asserting British sovereignty. The House saw fit, on both occasions, to reject the deals and, being the democrat that I am, I accepted this rejection and returned to the negotiating table with my colleagues, the Foreign Ministers of Europe, and got to work on a new deal. This is the fruit of that labour which, in my estimation, is not just a better deal, but an excellent deal.

Mr. Speaker, in this deal we have removed the Irish backstop and given Northern Ireland the opportunity to express its regulatory will, in alignment with the Good Friday Agreement, every four years. It was not a simple demand to achieve, but we have achieved it and, I believe, it will make for a lasting peace on the island of Ireland between brothers in the Republic and in our United Kingdom. Business in Northern Ireland will be able to continue to trade and operate with their neighbours without restriction or hindrance at the border; workers who hitherto have traveled south for work will continue to be able to do so; and, importantly, families who are separated by the border between the Republic and the United Kingdom will be able to continue to travel without difficulty to see one another. This new agreement provides the best of both worlds to the people of Northern Ireland and, I trust, the Republic of Ireland, and provides them every opportunity to continue to lead their lives normally and without interruption.

Likewise, this agreement has clarified the nature of regulatory changes in the EU and the UK, and secures the UK's right, once we have left the European Union, to set its own regulations and to arbitrate its own legal cases. By amending the political declaration, we have ensured that there can be no question as to who is sovereign over the laws and regulations of the British people. Parliament, not Brussels, shall have the final say on how we organize our regulatory frameworks, how we defend our workers' rights, and how we protect our environment. This is a critical step forward for British sovereignty and for beginning the exciting process of rebuilding a Britain which will be a world leader in every aspect. Through this agreement, we will leave the European Union unencumbered so that we can proceed to enliven the economies of every corner of this country, become leaders in green technology, and, crucially, begin looking to the wider world for partnership.

A final point about the agreement, Mr. Speaker, is that leaving the European Union with an agreement at all is a remarkably important thing. The relationship between Britain and Europe must remain strong so that we may pursue mutually-benefiting cooperation in the future. During my time campaigning to the leave the European Union on the doorsteps of Britain, I heard many times the concern that leaving Europe would disastrously impact Britain's ability to trade with the continent, and that it would disrupt established trade lines and severely damage business. Should we reject this agreement and crash out of Europe with no deal, then I can all but guarantee that there will be no trade deal, there will be no transition period, and there will be no amicable divorce. This deal is a good deal. It provides us with a solution to the major questions which had been left unanswered by the previous two deals, and it guarantees us a period of transition during which it will be the sole aim of our negotiators to secure a trade deal which will enrich the British as well as the Europeans. This deal provides us with a solid, amicable foothold to do that; there is a tremendous amount of desire on both sides to achieve a trade deal, and we must get to work now, rather than later, to make sure that we get a good trade deal and that British business continues to operate unhindered in the continent and, now for the first time in a long time, abroad as well.

Mr. Speaker, I opened my remarks by saying that the previous two agreements were good deals, but imperfect. I shall close my remarks by saying that this agreement before us is an excellent deal. We have, substantially, achieved all that we set out to achieve in the negotiation process. There will undoubtedly be those Members of the House for whom this agreement does not go far enough; there will likewise be those for whom this deal goes too far. To each of those groups I say this: the alternative is to achieve a no-deal Brexit where Britain crashes out of Europe, has no foreseeable opportunity to secure a meaningful trade deal with Europe, and where the Good Friday Agreement will be, essentially, torn to shreds. It may sound dramatic, Mr. Speaker, but the deadline looms and an extension is not on the table. The British people voted for Brexit; the Government is delivering on Brexit. It now falls to the Members of this House to choose between the competing visions of opportunity and despair. I have every confidence that we will choose correctly, and I commend this bill to the House.
Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Stanley | Altrincham and Sale West
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Pearl MacBay »

Mr. Speaker,

I reluctantly rise to support this bill. I do so on behalf of the people of Great Grimsby, who voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union. As their Member of Parliament, I firmly believe it is my duty to deliver what they asked for. Voting for this, Mr. Speaker, does not change my view that we are better inside the EU than out. The reality, of course, is that we are leaving the EU and leaving with a deal is much more desirable than the alternative.

I am not going to praise this deal, Mr. Speaker. Nor am I going to praise the Prime Minister or the members opposite. Let's be crystal clear about how we got to this point: weak leadership from David Cameron, who was more afraid of Nigel Farage ripping his party apart than he was on providing good government to the United Kingdom. What's before us today is about as thin of a deal one could get, and is not the big, bold, comprehensive deal that the government promised.

This deal is a downgrade of our relationship with the EU. It is the creation of red tape; of bureaucratic mess; it's added costs for business and barriers for trade. The Conservative government, long portraying themselves as the friends of business, have made it harder for UK businesses to operate and trade. Let that sink in for a moment, Mr. Speaker.

I could go on and on, Mr. Speaker, but this debate feels a touch like Groundhog Day. We go 'round and 'round in circles, rehashing the referendum campaign. Despite its flaws, Mr. Speaker, all of us in this House have an obligation to democracy. The people have spoken, and they spoke clearly: we are to leave the EU. Our job in this House, Mr. Speaker, is to make that happen and to do so in the least damaging way possible. This is, sadly, as good as it gets, and so while I remain deeply concerned about this deal, it must pass. The alternatives are too disastrous to consider.
Pearl MacBay, MP
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Brown »

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in support of this bill, while maintaining serious reservations that we have not truly delivered the Brexit which the British People are entitled to. However, it has become increasingly clear that there is great danger that if we do not accept this imperfect withdraw agreement which nevertheless allows us to reclaim our Sovereignty, there is a significant likelihood that some in this Chamber who think that they know better than the British People may be able to succeed in undermining the will of the people expressed in the Referendum.

While I have significant and heartfelt differences with many members of this House on this issue, I do think that there is one area upon which we have common agreement: this matter must be settled. Our nation deserves closure. We can not have Brexit holding our country hostage. The British people have spoken, and while it is right and proper that some in this Chamber may disagree with their decision, it is the duty of this Government and this Parliament to accept that decision. This withdrawal agreement achieves just that--and while it remains imperfect--it is an improvement over the former agreement that I voted against in this House.

We must also recognize that the European Union has, quite deliberately, made this process as painful as possible. Emboldened by the actions of some in this House, believing that there might be a way to undo the result of the British People, the European Union has made it deliberately as painful as possible for us to achieve the withdrawal from the EU which the British people voted for. This has a dual purpose, of course, to “whip into line” the other member-states of the European Union which may be seriously considering invoking Article 50 themselves. While I have had many disagreements with this Government and the Prime Minister over this matter, I recognize that the difficulty in achieving this agreement is largely due to the simple fact that the European Union has not been negotiating in good faith. This final agreement, while imperfect, is the best deal we are going to get from the European Union, and on balance I judge that the deficiencies in this agreement outweigh the severe damage that a no-deal Brexit would bring to Britain and, frankly, Europe and the wider world.

There is much ado made in this House by some that those of us who believe that we should respect the will of the British people hate Europe. Nothing could be further from the truth, Mr. Speaker. It is important for us to continue to have a collaborative relationship with the European Union--but as a Sovereign State, not as a subject unto it. I look with hope and anticipation for a new phase in our relationship with the European Union, and the possibilities that the restored sovereignty of the United Kingdom will bring to this land, soon able to govern on its own accord.

Therefore, I shall cast my vote in favour of this legislation, because it achieves the end the British people have spoken for. While not perfect, it provides the finality and break that we have been mandated by the British people to do and in that, at least, the British people may find comfort as we enter into this new era together.
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Andrew Summer »

Mr. Speaker,

Over the course of the last few months, we have argued intensely regarding the different aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, both on its original versions and the more updated version my Rt. Hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has described so well. It has been a difficult and increasingly familiar debate, in which we have become well acquainted with the philosophical and technical approaches that members have when it comes to implementing Brexit. Or, regrettably, when it comes to wanting to obstruct and overturn it.

Ultimately, Mr. Speaker, once we get clear of all the parliamentary maneuvers and the twists and turns of what has been a very eventful period in Westminster, there remains one clear immutable fact which has led us to a decisive moment in the history of this nation. That fact is that there is a majority in this nation that voted for Brexit, both in a referendum and then in a General Election. To that fact I would add three secondary ones, almost as relevant: first, that there is a majority in this House that believes in implementing that decision. Second, that there is yet another majority against a second referendum and, naturally, against overturning Brexit. And third, as we saw before the third meaningful vote, that there was also a majority against seven other forms of Brexit.

Mr. Speaker, no withdrawal agreement from the European Union will ever be perfect, and there will always be a point to be made, a misgiving to be held. No negotiable document will ever be able to please every single member of this House, for we will all have different notions of what the perfect form of Brexit looks like. But surely, we must be able to recognize that, at some point – which, at long last, should come on this day – we must display the necessary sense of responsibility to our constituents to allow the passage for a withdrawal agreement that will deliver.

The withdrawal agreement, as it stands, delivers on the key goals and objectives of leaving the EU. We get to leave the political institutions which have shackled us for far too long. We get to regain control over our justice system. We get to leave the Single Market, and restore control over our borders. We get to leave the Customs Union, and regain the ability to trade with the rest of the world in our terms. We get to leave the EU as a united country. And this time, we also get to leave after replacing the Northern Irish backstop with a mechanism at the same time more democratic and more beneficial than its earlier version. We get to unleash the enormous economic, political and social potential of Brexit, to the benefit of the people of this country.

But above all, we get to Leave. This updated version of the withdrawal agreement is therefore not only consistent with that the people voted for in 2016, it is also the one realistic route to leaving the EU at least, after such a long period of debate. Let us be clear, there is not meaningful alternative here, both on practical terms – because there won’t be further EU extensions – and on terms of political legitimacy, for this House has made its rejection of all other alternatives clear. We made a collective promise in 2016 to our constituents and to the people of the United Kingdom. We promised that we would respect their decision and implement it. We now the opportunity to do so right here, right now. I voted for the past iteration of the deal understanding that, while not perfect, it was a good deal. And I will vote for this deal knowing that it is an even better one.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I do want to recognize how respectful I am of those colleagues on the opposite benches that supported the deal on the third meaningful vote and will be voting for it today. Their reasons wary, ranging from those who have been steadfast on their support for Brexit from the beginning to those who, even if they may disagree with the concept of leaving the EU, believe it is right to respect the will of the public. I strongly respect that, and welcome their decision understanding that it comes in spite of intense pressure coming from those who, even at this point, would rather persist in disrupting, prolonging or suspending our orderly exit from the EU.

I do, however, regret that even now there’s a tendency by some to minimize the mandate given by the public on 2016. Giving people the right to make a decision on this historic issue after not being directly asked for a period of forty years was very much the right thing to do. Furthermore, it was a positive development in our long democratic history in spite of the admittedly significant challenges we all faced to get to this point. And so I would argue that there’s been enough second guessing of the people’s motives for voting in favor of Leave and the need for this referendum to take place.

It has been, admittedly, a very grueling process. And ahead of us we will have a defined transition process, with no extensions or delays, which will allow us to set relationship terms and, at last, regain that invaluable sovereignty we gradually lost over the past few decades. We will finally we abandon an institution that was no longer working for Britain by virtue of having grown complacent, obstructive and out of touch. We will chart a new course which will have us stand on our own as equals in sovereignty with the EU, being both willing to engage and work with the EU on a constructive, positive basis that recognizes the common goals we do share; while also recognizing our clear differences and being vigilant enough that we may never lose our sovereignty again.

Mr. Speaker, we have a chance today to start writing a new chapter in the history of Britain, a bold, exciting future that will benefit us all. Let us take the decisive step, and support this bill.
Andrew Summer MP - Conservative and Unionist Party
Member of Parliament for Ashford (2010 - Present)

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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Finn Armstrong »

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today in opposition to this proposed piece of legislation, which would rip the United Kingdom away from the continent and would threaten to rip apart the union itself. There are many areas where the Withdrawal Agreement falls short, and I will enumerate and expound upon a few of them after offering what I believe ought to have come before us, if only cooler heads had prevailed.

While I am proud of my vote cast in 2016 for Remain, I do acknowledge the vital role democracy plays in our society. And while I disagreed heartily with the former Prime Minister, the former member for Witney, to hold a divisive referendum solely to garner votes from the eurosceptic UKIP movement, I do acknowledge that when the people speak, we must listen. After all, our government and society are built on nothing less.

And so, when the Goldilocks promise of Brexit was peddled by politicians - many of whom sit in this very chamber - voters decided to back it. But then the details started pouring in: what to do with customs? With VAT? With the divorce bill? With Northern Ireland? The Goldilocks Brexit ended up being just as much a figment of one’s imagination as a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.

That is why I have supported a final say referendum, to give the British people the opportunity to accept a negotiated Brexit deal that they asked for. And then, I would have preferred a soft Brexit, along the lines of European Economic Area terms. That would have preserved our ties with the continent, appealed to Leave voters as well as providing the most unifying opportunity for Remain voters to support the final arrangement. Alas, Mr. Speaker, that is not what we have before us today.

Instead, the current proposal before us would sever our ties entirely, and without getting the approval of the British people. With multiple previous Government-backed deals failing to garner the support of Parliament, we should have had an election. After all, it was clear to every person watching that this House had no confidence in the Conservative government on the pressing political issue of the day: Brexit.

And, the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister still doesn’t have the confidence of this body. She’s promised her backbenches that she will resign if this bill passes. That’s hardly reassuring; the leader of Her Majesty’s government is threatening to pack up the ball and go home. But now, to the particulars of this deal that make it so objectionable not only to myself, but to a wide swathe of people up and down this United Kingdom.

One set of fundamental concerns are definitely policy-driven, and they involve protecting the vulnerable in our society. From EU immigrants, service workers, and the environment, this Withdrawal Agreement would undermine decades of international cooperation that have protected members of our society who need it most.

Let’s look at an issue near and dear to my heart, and to the health and wellbeing of the entire planet: the environment. Within the broader goal of creating a sustainable society, developing renewable energy sources is most often front and center. Britain is consistently pushed to be better by meeting European standards, something that this Withdrawal Agreement does little to address. Indeed, instead of reassuring us that the environment will be provided for, leading free-market Brexiteers reject climate science and view this as a net positive. Well, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that without a permanent trade deal in hand we will be paying much more for renewable energy supplies and components from the continent.

In addition to policy concerns, another set of concerns is economic. Instead of being able to put money towards the NHS, as was promised, we’ll be stuck putting money towards the European Union - an organisation we will have left - in the form of the divorce bill. Upwards of £30 billion will be committed to the EU over the course of decades as a direct result of this bill. If this would create an economic miracle that spurred growth, perhaps I could back it. But Brexit will harm our economy - and this Brexit deal will do so perniciously. The impact to those at the very top will be far less severe than the punishment visited upon workers at the bottom of the economic ladder.

And my final concern for now is the definite damage that would be done to our union. I make no effort in hiding it: I’m a strong believer that the United Kingdom is better together. Yet subsequent Conservative governments, including this one, seem bent on destroying the union. I need not remind this body of the divisive Scottish Referendum in 2014, nor of the even-narrower Brexit Referendum of 2016. And now, in the wake of these elections that split the nations and split the people, the Government is proposing a regulatory border on the Irish Sea, effectively severing Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. Don’t take my word for it, take the nonpartisan write-up attached to this bill: “there will effectively be a customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea.”

Mr. Speaker, this bill fails my test of what good legislation ought to do. It doesn’t support the vulnerable, it leaves them further behind. It doesn’t strengthen our economy, it sets us up for stagnation. It doesn’t preserve the union, it creates internal borders.

And most importantly, it doesn’t unite, it divides.

For these reasons, I will be going through the Noe lobby on this bill, and I urge my colleagues of all stripes and partisan affiliations to do so.
Finn Armstrong
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Liam McMahon »

Mr. Speaker,

Another day, another crunch vote. Let’s hope this will be the last.

I’m not going to say I reluctantly support this deal because my constituents voted to Leave and I go to the division lobby with an electoral gun to my head. I’ve taken time to listen to my constituents on this matter, Mr. Speaker: they’re not stupid. They’re not ill informed. They’re not xenophobic. That is not why they voted to leave the European Union.

They voted to leave the European Union because too long deep concerns they’d had over accountability and sovereignty had been ignored. They, rightfully where I had not, calculated that if they voted to leave the European Union, which to them had long been an institution that was deeply unaccountable, where fundamental decisions about their lives had been taken somewhere remote, far away and out of reach to them, it would give a shot in the arm to politicians here in Westminster. We would have to listen, and we would have to ensure we made ourselves more accountable and that we listened to the deep-rooted concerns of millions.

That was a shot in the arm to me. I fear for too many in the House, including many in my own party, it has not done the trick enough.

The British people, in my opinion, voted for something very simple when they told us to leave the European Union: they wanted no political union with Brussels, they wanted more control over our immigration system, and they wanted us to have more control over our taxpayer money and how it was spent. These are simple instructions. Technocratic talk of Customs Unions, single markets and trade deals which I’ve seen on all side of this debate are merely that: Westminster babble that distracts us from the bread-and-butter issues that motivated Britons when they voted to leave the European Union.

They gave us one simple instruction, Mr. Speaker, and what have they seen? So called crunch vote after crunch vote, with any attempt of serious compromise shot down by two camps of people who sit in both parties: extreme Remainers who could not accept that they had lost and undemocratically tried to overturn the results of the referendum with fantasies of a second referendum, and extremist Brexiters who only want to kamikaze Britain into a disastrous no deal situation. Their childish tug of war has left us in limbo for too long, and because of it communities have suffered, businesses have suffered and public services have suffered.

If we can’t even deliver a sensible and managed exit from the European Union, Mr. Speaker, the British people will look at us and think – what can you lot do? Not only does this constant political battle leave us unable to move on to deliver on the referendum result and focus on other big issues Britons worry about, but I think of my constituents who see us failing to deliver on their vote. If we can’t deliver on that, how could we fix the social care system? If we can’t deliver on that, how do we lift their wages and give them well paid job? If we can’t do that, how could we ever build world class public services?

Some, such as the Member for Thurrock, say “the European Union has made it deliberately as painful as possible for us to achieve the withdrawal from the EU which the British people voted for.”

Let us be real, Mr. Speaker: we made it difficult for ourselves so I don't know why they'd bother trying. The European Union have delivered not one, but two, reasonable compromises to deliver on this democratic result. I think it’s time for the party-political squabbles to end and for us in this House to compromise to deliver on the Brexit result too.

In Westminster, escaping the party-political wrestle is hard. I regret that I voted against the first Brexit deal - all because I wondered how I could vote for a Tory deal. The truth is, the only deal I should be voting for is one that delivers on the key asks of the British people while safeguarding crucial sectors of our economy in the process. That is what I feel the deal today broadly does.

Many members on the Leave and Remain side say that this deal isn’t perfect. They’re right. But where they show they are out of touch is they think that just because the Leave campaign promised a fantasy, perfect Brexit deal, that is what the British people voted for. I think the British people were smarter than we were when they cast their ballot: they knew compromises would have to be made, but as long as we broadly delivered on controls on immigration, more control over taxpayer money and leaving the political institutions of the EU, they would be broadly happy with what we had to offer. In the process, we needed a deal that safeguarded our economy and avoided a disastrous no deal Brexit.

That is what this deal offers. That is why I am voting for it. By removing us from the cliff edge prospect of no deal, I’ll be acting in the interests of the millions of concerned Britons who did not vote for Brexit, tens of thousands of them in my own constituency. But I will also be respecting the 55% in Wansbeck who voted for Brexit, including Labour voters. In some mining towns, such Ashington, we know the numbers who voted for Brexit hit as high as 80%.

These voters are the lifeblood of the Labour Party. These are people who agree with our values and share our history. It feels like the party leadership has refused to listen to them. But I want to make it clear today that I will not just listen, but act. I won’t just use their names for political brownie points like some on the government benches have, but I will fight fearlessly to champion their interests, even when that means making uncomfortable compromises.

In voting against the Labour whip, I know I’ll be doing so not just in the interest of my constituents or even the national interest, but in my own party’s interests.

The Labour Party’s refusal to knuckle down and accept the referendum result has been destructive, painful and has lost us the trust of millions of Labour voters. In passing this deal, I don’t just hope we can move on from the Brexit issue. I don’t just hope we can move on to resolve other issues. But I hope it gives the Labour Party a clean break to reflect with its core vote in Northern constituencies, and to be able to present policies that win back their trust after these tumultuous and painful few years.

That I’m voting against this deal doesn’t mean I do not have legitimate concerns. It is very clear that the situation regarding the Northern Irish protocol will likely need building on if we’re to build a lasting settlement that safeguards both the peace settlement and the union. I also share many key concerns about workers’ rights, consumer rights, environmental protections and food standards. But even then I say this knowing that the European Union provided the weakest of safety nets. The biggest advances in workers’ rights in this country, the reason why in some respects we are leaders, came not from Brussels but from Labour governments.

The European Union did not protect our communities from the most devastating policies of Thatcher. It did not stop the selling off of national assets and it did not stop whole industries and communities being hollowed out by outsourcing and deindustrialisation. Often, it championed those very policies.

The European Union did not introduce the minimum wage, maternity leave and the Equality Act – they were policies Labour governments introduced.

So we shouldn’t stop seeing the forest for the trees, Mr. Speaker. Instead of hedging all our bets on the European Union and inevitably losing, it is time we vote for the deal and move on. The country has moved on, and the Labour movement must move on with it. It is time we argue for stronger workers’ rights, stronger environmental protections and stronger food standards from our own Parliament. It is time we argue for stronger public services. It is time we argue for investment in our communities. I believe for us to have these vital conversations, we must finish the job the British people had set us in 2016.

This deal won't give anyone in this House the dream deal they imagined in the land of milk and honey. But it prevents us from stumbling into a no deal Brexit, which we know is what the extreme Brexiters really hope for, and it safeguards many of our key industries and sets forward a reasonable transition period timeline whilst also ensuring we can leave the political institutions of the European Union and have more control over our immigration system. In that sense, it addresses the key concerns of many in my constituency whether they voted Leave or Remain, and that's enough for me. When I go into the division lobby to vote for this deal, it is those constituents I will think of.
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Simon Godwin »

Mr Speaker,

I come to this debate today conflicted. On one side I recognise and accept that we held a referendum and in that referendum the nation spoke - many agreed with it and many disagreed with it, there are and have been many arguments made about the referendum but what we must all accept is that referendum happened and that there was a clear answer to the question that was asked. Trying to re-run that referendum will do nobody any good, and I believe that it would do a great disservice to the millions of people that voted, and many for the very first time in many years or in their lives, in good faith.

While I accept the result of the referendum, I do not believe that it means I must vote for this deal before us today because it is a least worst option presented to us with a clock ticking down. This electoral gun to our heads is no way to unpick a massive constitutional quagmire that we find ourselves in because certain members of the Government were desperate to run out of the EU before the country could even get its ducks in a row. This deal presented to us is deficient in so many ways, on workers rights, on the environment, on safeguarding important parts of our economy, on immigration, and on Northern Ireland. I strongly believe that there is a better way for our withdrawal from the European Union to managed - and it is a shame that the blind ideology of Government MPs have driven us to this point.

I listened carefully to the speeches of my colleagues detailing their reasons for breaking the Labour whip today, and I understand their reasons for doing so - primarily their commitment to their constituents’ wishes to deliver Brexit. That I understand and respect. But I ask them what about my constituents? My constituents who voted overwhelmingly to remain by almost 70%. Many of those on the opposite bench, and some I fear on this side of the House as well, would say “they lost, they need get over it.” That might be true Mr Speaker, but our democracy is built on the needs of our constituents and how we as their representatives deliver on those needs, ignoring our constituents should be the death knell of any member of this House.

So, when my constituents voted overwhelmingly in the referendum to remain I followed their lead, and when they returned me to this House in 2017 fighting to deliver a better deal than what this Government could offer I listened to them. And I cannot support this poor deal before us just because the Conservatives led themselves into a mess of their own making.

I expect that this deal will pass today, with colleagues that I know and respect defying the whip of their party to represent their constituents desire to see us leave the European Union. As I said earlier I respect that choice, and I know how hard the decision will be for them, but what I will say to colleague is that our primary responsibility here in this House is to represent our constituents, so if you believe that your constituents will be served by this deal then you must vote for it. I believe the decision of the Labour leadership to whip this vote will lead to greater divisions within our party. Just like the referendum campaign, any and all Brexit deals in Parliament should have been free votes. Brexit is not just a simple policy difference between Government and Opposition but a difficult question that cannot be answered with simple party politics. I’m not one to often support breaking the whip like my colleague the Leader of the Opposition once used to do when he occupied his seat on the backbenches, but when faced with such a monumental issue such as Brexit it requires much more than party.

While listening to the speeches of members opposite, you would think that this whole mess we find ourselves in today was of the EU’s making, not the intransigence of the Government to properly prepare before invoking Article 50, the intransigence of the Prime Minister in her red-lines that she hoped would satisfy her backbenchers but knew she would have to go back on, and the intransigence of Conservative MPs that saw their opportunity to cause chaos and plunge this country into turmoil because they knew it would never affect them. I highlight the comments from the Member for Thurrock where he said that the EU had, and I quote, “not been negotiating in good faith.” That Mr Speaker is just not correct and is a ploy from the Conservative party to paint themselves as the aggrieved party in these negotiations when it is plain for all to see that the EU had been very accommodating in these negotiations.

Frankly, Mr Speaker, it would have been easy for the EU Commission and EU27 to have been difficult in the negotiations. They could have closed ranks and used their position to demand their red lines, but instead offered us two very reasonable compromises. They did this because they have their own interests, of course, but they also do not want to punish the United Kingdom for leaving but regret our decision to leave. What does that tell us about the people we are walking away from? That despite all of this they still will miss the United Kingdom’s presence and input into the European Project. Yes, the EU has many problems that need to be fixed, but attempts by members opposite to paint the EU as deliberately obstructive is a falsehood and I suggest those members reflect on their words.

Mr Speaker, when I walk through the lobbies this evening I will be doing fully aware and confident in my decision - and I will be doing so for the very same reason as my honourable friend the member for Wansbeck - but alas we will be in differing lobbies and I will be voting against this deal.
Simon Godwin MP
Labour and Co-op MP for Hove (2005-2010, 2015-Presnt)


"There are hazards in everything one does, but there are greater hazards in doing nothing." - Shirley Williams
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Eva Phillips
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Eva Phillips »

Mr Speaker,

I rise today to oppose this bill. I do so with a heavy heart because I know the frustration the public feel given that this issue is still unresolved three years after the Referendum on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. I campaigned for Remain, I have made no secret of the fact that I believe that leaving the European Union is a mistake which Britain shall regret. However, I accept the will of the British people and the decision they made. What I do not accept Mr Speaker, is the manner in which this deal has been presented to us today. Once again, we are faced with a bill which has not been drawn up based on what is best for Britain but rather on what the Prime Minister could force her paymasters to begrudgingly accept. In robbing Peter to pay Paul, she has done nothing to quell the divisions in the Tory Party, something we see in full evidence in this House today. The Honourable Member for Thurrock finds the bill imperfect. But he will vote for it regardless because "Brexit means Brexit". For shame Mr Speaker.

I am not so naive as to believe there is a perfect deal, Britain's withdrawal from the European Union was never going to be easy despite the insistence of many members of this House on the benches opposite that it would be. But surely to goodness as the elected representatives of the British people, we have the responsibility to pass legislation we believe to be of benefit based on the merits of that legislation and not whether it meets the description of a Brexit so unrecognizable from that promised by the Leave campaign in 2016, that even it's most ardent supporters cannot agree on what constitutes a "real exit" from the European Union? If this bill, a bill which incidentally I do not feel parliament has had nearly enough time to scrutinize as our constituents would expect, turns out to deliver the economic and social crisis many of us believe will ensue, how shall we defend our decision to vote for it? That we threw scrutiny and accountability to the wind because Brexit had to happen come hell or high water?

Now I do not wish to revisit the debate of 2016 but I believe there is a need to put on the record today that many of the issues raised by that debate remain unresolved. Frankly Mr Speaker, I feel ashamed when I think of the positive contribution many of us tried to make to the discussion only to be overshadowed by big red buses and the flinging of dead fish into the River Thames. The disinformation, the manipulated statistics, the use of alarmist and yes, xenophobic, imagery should never again be allowed to corrupt what should have been a mature, reasoned and rational debate about the future of the United Kingdom within the European Union. So on the record Mr Speaker, I should like to make it clear that whilst the issue of whether we Leave or we Remain has been settled, there are still questions which must be answered. Those who knowingly misled the public must be held to account, allegations of funding discrepancies must be addressed and we must commit to an inquiry that reviews the influence third parties may or may not have had during the campaign.

I know many of those opposite will cry that this is a demand to overturn the result. Not at all. We shall implement what the British people demanded of us. But we shall not do so to ease the political troubles of the Prime Minister and we shall not do so to keep the ERG happy. If we are to leave, and I accept that we must, our constituents deserve better than "imperfect". They also deserve better than a bill packed with meaningless phrases which have been torn directly from the literature put out by Mr Farage and Mr Banks. Section 38 (1) for example, "explicitly recognises that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is sovereign". Is this the same parliament which introduced the bill to allow for the referendum in the first place? Was parliament not sovereign then? Why is it more sovereign now? You see Mr Speaker, the Brexit debate remains tainted by these emotionally loaded phrases which we all know can be no more defined by this order paper than they could be on the side of a bus.

On this side of the House, we have asked for more scrutiny. The bill introduces provisions for Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of the process by primary legislation, instead of secondary legislation under the European Union Withdrawal Bill. But what good is this if bills like this one are to be rushed through parliament to meet arbitrary deadlines? And we should not forget that the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 with no foresight into the path ahead. She did so because the ERG insisted that not to do so was a betrayal of the 52%. And so the countdown was begun, totally unnecessarily, with no competence, no clarity and no clue. And the result is that we find ourselves presented with a bill that we are told can not possibly be improved and yet must be passed if Brexit is to be honoured. The ERG may well have held the Prime Minister hostage these last few years, they certainly won't do it to me.

This is a sad day for this parliament Mr Speaker. This is a shoddy deal, a deal thrown together in backrooms with polls and headlines in mind and not the prosperity and the success of the British people. We see little commitment to upholding the rights of workers which the previous arrangement secured. We are being given vague pledges and promises of "a British Bill of Rights", yet we have no idea what the contents will be. We are being asked to endorse a blank cheque giving the government full authority to implement it's vision of Brexit when that vision is far from clear. We have no firm guarantees on the rights of EU citizens living in this country, neither do we have solid reassurances on the situation of British citizens residing in the EU. We have no clarity on farming subsidies, on free trade agreements, on documentation for travel. We are still unclear as to what this deal will mean for Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement, neither do we know what it means for legal protections for Britons at home or abroad.

And yet, we are lectured by the so-called Brexit Spartans that not to approve this deal today is a betrayal of the will of the British people. We are told that Brexit must happen and it must happen now, even if this deal is "imperfect". Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister is trying to sell parliament a bicycle with no brakes. To restore her own authority, she is prepared to rush through legislation she herself knows to be flawed. But I did not come to this House to improve the personal popularity ratings of a failed Tory Prime Minister. I came to hold the government to account, to deliver the best for my constituents and to fight for their rights and their protections each and every day. Until a Withdrawal Agreement is introduced which meets that criteria, I shall not give my endorsement to it. And shame on any of us who does so knowing the shameless ultimatum we were presented with today.
Eva Phillips MP
Member of Parliament for Barking (1997 - )
Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health and Social Care (2010 - 2015)
Charles Kinbote
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Re: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2019

Post by Charles Kinbote »

Mr. Speaker,

What I am about to say will most likely surprise everybody, being the Eurosceptic and Brexiteer that I am - I rise today to oppose this Act, and I urge any true Brexiteer to oppose this. Now, I want to make it clear - I have not softened my views - if anything my desire to see Britain leave the Eureaucratic mass called the EU has increased. I have not been convinced by the other side of the argument that people didn't know what they were voting for or that we need a neverendum until the Remoaners get their own way. I am not a Judas who is betraying the idea of Brexit. It is the Government that I think have betrayed the idea of Brexit.

We can argue until the cows come home over whether it was lack of planning for a No Deal or if it was lack of trust and faith in our ability to exist outside the EU - but that will do us no good. The truth is that we were told that Brexit meant Brexit and that No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal - this Government has failed on both accounts. This is not Brexit, and the Government have shown that they were willing to get any deal over no deal.

I am very pleased to see that there will be no customs union. I am pleased to see that we do not have follow "level playing commitments" after the transition period, and that the EU has backed down on trying to force us to be worse off than we can be. However, to have part of this nation that still has to align with EU rules is a disgrace not only to those that voted for Brexit but to everybody that believes in democracy.

The EU are absolutely desperate to make Brexit a failure to penalize and punish us for daring to be independent, and to ensure that Brexit fails. It has already paralyzed this Parliament beyond recognition. That is what the EU wants - to make it as difficult as possible for countries to be independent. Whether that is by paralyzing their parliament and their Government, whether that is by creating second class citizens in Northern Ireland who will follow different rules to the rest of us - they will do anything to ensure that the European project remains intact.

And even then, Northern Ireland could be forced into this position for four years after the end of the transitioning period, which if extended could run up until December 2022 - meaning that they would be forced to follow the EU on certain rules until December 2026 - ten years after we voted to leave.

Mr. Speaker,

Of course I did not expect to leave immediately on Independence Day, however I did not expect to find Britain, this great and glorious nation, to become a vassal state. We could be expected to fully follow EU laws up until 2022 if the transition period is extended - this is not what we voted for.

This is Brexit In Name Only. It is a Brexit for the Eureaucrats, not for the British people.

The EU want us to be a vassal state. They want Northern Ireland to follow their customs laws and VAT laws and for endless voting on this. The EU want to decide where the borders of our country are. This is our nation, not theirs. Brexit was about taking back control, and telling the EU "No, No, No!

If we want what we voted for, we must oppose this, even if it means no deal. I would rather have no deal, trading on WTO terms than allow the EU to exorcise control in this manner. I urge everybody in this Chamber today to vote against and tell the EU once and tell them to keep their stinking paws of our nation!
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