Last night, Members of Parliament voted on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, also known as the “Repeal Bill”.
This Bill is not about whether Britain leaves the EU. Rather, this Bill is about how we leave the EU, what role Parliament has in the process and how we safeguard vital rights and protections as we leave.
I believe that Brexit must not lead to any drop in rights and protections for the people of Portsmouth – including workplace rights, consumer rights, human rights, and protections as we leave – and that power should be brought back to Parliament and local communities.
The Government’s Bill, however, would do precisely the opposite: it would put huge and unaccountable power into the hands of Government ministers – including the power to decide the key terms of our exit from the EU – it would side-line Parliament on major decisions and put crucial rights and protections at risk. Far from bringing back control to Parliament, it would result in a power-grab for the Government.
The Bill would also undermine and introduce restrictions on the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, rather than leading to the wider devolution of power we need to see to communities across all parts of the UK.
Crucially, the Bill could also prevent Britain from being able to negotiate a strong transitional deal on the same basic terms we currently enjoy, which is vital for our economy as we leave the EU.
That is why I voted against the Bill in its current form last night.
It would cause lasting damage to the role and power of Parliament and would do nothing to help deliver the Brexit deal we would need – one that puts jobs and economy first and maintains rights and protections. It would also give a blank cheque to the Government to change whichever laws they please.
Labour has repeatedly raised these concerns with the Government but they have been utterly inflexible and unwilling to engage constructively. My party’s aim has always been to repair this Bill, not wreck it.
The Government has not listened to these reasonable and constructive concerns before last night’s Commons votes on the Bill. If they had, consensus on this important issue could have been reached and a far better Bill introduced.
I will continue to listen to the views of local people on this important matter.