European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Labour, Streatham 4:45 pm, 7th September 2017

I do not want to repeat many of the excellent points made from the shadow Front Bench and elsewhere, but I do want to make one observation and two points—one legal and technical on clause 6, and one that is more substantial on clause 9.

First, I want to make an observation. I am sorry, but I disagree with Robert Jenrick, who has just spoken: what is proposed in this Bill is unprecedented, as we see from the reaction on both sides of the House.

There is an absurdity in this debate. I spent much of the time during the EU referendum debating against Conservative Members campaigning to leave. More often than not, the core of their argument was about a Brussels elite exercising power, yet I have sat in the Chamber for most of today and listened to them become arch-advocates of transferring power to another elite in this country.

It is a shame that Mr Duncan Smith is no longer in the Chamber. He talked about his participation in the Maastricht debates of the 1990s, and the hon. Members for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) and for Stone (Sir William Cash) were also involved. The Prime Minister of the time had a word to describe them all, which I will not repeat today. They were constantly invoking parliamentary sovereignty and the importance of this House determining the future of our nation. It is funny how silent they are on upholding that argument now, and have been over the last few hours of this debate.

Let us be honest about the reason for this and for the absurdity of their position in this debate: they promised Brexit in terms that simply cannot be delivered in the timeframe the Government envisage. That is why we see these unprecedented, extraordinary powers envisaged in this Bill for the Executive. It is entirely right for us to keep reminding people of what the promises were and whether they are being delivered.

My technical point on clause 6—