I had made it very clear publically over the last 3 months that I had serious concerns about the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, particularly in relation to the wide powers it grants Ministers. I therefore thought it would be helpful if I detailed my reasons for voting for Amendment 7 on Wednesday 13th December.
Amendment 7 is an amendment to Clause 9, which gives wide powers to Minister to implement any withdrawal agreement with minimal Parliamentary scrutiny. As I said in September, given Clause 9 could be used to bring in major policy changes relating to EU citizens, the Irish border and dispute resolution, and the assurances made by the Government on a Parliamentary vote to approve a deal, the exercise of this power must surely be scrutinised fully by Parliament.
This is what Amendment 7 does, by requiring an Act of Parliament before the powers in Clause 9 can be used. That is the full extent of Amendment 7, it does not stop or delay Brexit, it just requires Parliamentary approval for the final exit deal.
Furthermore, the Government had already promised a vote to approve the final deal, and a separate Statute to implement it. However, this promise would have been undermined with the wide powers granted to Ministers in Clause 9. That is why the requirement had to be put into law and so this amendment in my view is in line with Government policy.
How we leave the EU will have a significant effect on people and businesses across our country and it is the most significant and complex constitutional decision this country must make for a generation. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that this decision is made by Parliament, and by each MP on behalf of their constituents. Anything else would be an abdication of our duties as Members of Parliament.
The European Parliament will vote on the final deal before it is concluded, and this is enshrined in Article 50. Numerous national, and even potentially regional Parliaments, across the EU27 may also have a vote on the deal. So surely the UK Parliament must at least have these same rights over the final deal if it is to be considered sovereign.
I took no pleasure in voting against the Government and my Party for the first time, and it was a very difficult decision but I believe it was the right one. There did not have to be a rebellion, it was completely avoidable. My colleagues and I had raised our concerns with the Government three months ago and have been trying to work with the Government find a solution which everybody would be happy with. In the end, the minor concessions offered before the vote unfortunately failed to address the issues being raised. Therefore, I had to vote with my conscience and put my country and constituency first.
Amendment 7 passing does not undermine the Government or the Prime Minister, nor does it make it more likely Jeremy Corbyn will become Prime Minister. The evidence for this is clear as the EU27 have just agreed to move to the next phase of talks, an achievement I fully support and for which I congratulate the Prime Minister.
At the core of the Leave campaign was a promise to “take back control” – and now Parliament can do just that, to ensure we can fully scrutinise and decide on the most significant constitutional change for a generation.
Finally, as ever, I am very happy to hear the views of constituents on this or any other matter. Please do email me on email@example.com