On Monday 11th, the European Union Withdrawal Bill was brought before the House of Commons for its Second Reading. Understandably, many constituents have got in touch to discuss their views. These are my reasons for voting the way I did.
In last year’s referendum, Barnsley East and the UK voted to leave the European Union, and I respect that result. Article 50 has been triggered, and the UK will be leaving the EU. Monday’s vote on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was not an attempt to delay or overturn this process. Despite the strong feelings on both sides, that issue is settled.
The Bill presented before the House of Commons was not about whether we should leave the EU, but rather how it should be done.
The un-amended Bill would put huge powers in the hands of a small number of Conservative Ministers, let them bypass Parliament, and give them the power to slash employee, consumer and environmental rights and protections. That is why I voted against the Bill.
If passed, this Bill would give Theresa May and her Tory Government the power to ignore Parliamentary scrutiny and make sweeping changes to our fundamental rights and protections. Parliament would be powerless to ensure our exit from the EU is in the interests of the people we serve.
I am aware that this will be presented by the Conservatives as Labour trying to block Brexit. But this is nothing less than an attempt to disguise and distract from their undemocratic power-grab. Many people voted during the EU Referendum to ‘take back control’. They sought to give power to the British Parliament, and ensure decisions are made by elected representatives in the UK. They did not vote to ignore the Parliament the British people recently elected, and give the Tories unchecked powers to make changes as they see fit.
This Bill was in the interests of the Tory Government, not people in Barnsley East, and I cannot support it until it is amended to reflect the reasons people voted to leave the EU, and represents the interests of my constituents.
It is vital to avoid a cliff edge economy when we leave the EU in 2019. I subsequently believe we will require a strong transitional deal on the same basic terms we currently enjoy within the single market and customs union that will provide a jobs-first Brexit. However, this transitional period cannot be indefinite and must be time limited, acting as a bridge towards a lasting relationship with the EU.