Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 13th March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Conservative, Broxtowe 5:21 pm, 13th March 2017

I am going to keep my comments as brief as possible so that as many Members as possible can speak. I spoke when we last considered, effectively, amendment 2 in its new form, and I just say this: it is surely perverse that we are in a situation whereby if there is a deal it comes back to this place and we debate it and vote on it, but if there is the worst scenario—which is no deal—we are not entitled to that say or that vote. That simply cannot be right.

This is not a debate about Brexit. We have had that vote; I voted against my conscience in accordance with the promise I made to the people of Broxtowe that I would honour the referendum result, and I voted for us to leave the EU. So we have had that one; we are moving on.

This debate is actually all about parliamentary sovereignty, and there are some uncomfortable truths that need to be said. It took a few brave souls—and they were brave—to go to the High Court and then the Supreme Court to establish parliamentary sovereignty. That is why we now have this Bill—not because we did it in this place, and history will record all these things, but because of what they did. But to the credit of the Government, they accepted that.

I understand that there is a good argument to be made that this is a short and simple Bill, but the difficulty, and the reason why I found myself for the first time voting against my Government, is this intransigence—this inability to accept that in the worst-case scenario this place is not going to be allowed a say. And for this Secretary of State, of all Members of this place, with his fine track record of establishing, and fighting at every opportunity for the sovereignty of Parliament, to be standing up and denying us that on this particular issue is deeply ironic.