Retaining Enhanced Protection

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 17th January 2018.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee 3:30 pm, 17th January 2018

My hon. Friend is right. It is immensely important that we get these decisions right. I have proposed, in amendment 10, that the date should be settled in Parliament in the statute that provides for a meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement. It is the obvious and logical consequence of agreeing to the previous amendment 7, which requires a vote on a statute. Let us set the date for departure in that statute, rather than in this Bill. I propose that when we get to the withdrawal agreement, we confirm the date, because the terms and timing of departure should go hand in hand. In that way, we do not concentrate all the power in Ministers’ hands.

We need to make sure that when Parliament has a meaningful vote, we have proper transparency and a debate on the decision, and that is why new clause 17 is so important. The Government have ruled out membership of the single market and the customs union. Everyone recognises that the single market issues are complex, linked as they are to questions of immigration and how we deal with future rules. That makes it even more important for Parliament and the public to be able to scrutinise the Government’s decisions on those complex issues. To do so, we need to know the facts and the impact on the economy and our constituencies.

On the customs union, the issues are more straightforward, but the need for transparency is the same. Being in the customs union is immensely important not just for Northern Ireland, but for manufacturers across the country, especially across the north and the midlands. The Prime Minister, we understand, has had special meetings with City financiers about what they need from the Brexit deal, but what about Yorkshire manufacturers in my constituency? Where is their chance to have their say on the customs arrangements that they need? Where is the opportunity for us all to see the impact of not being in the customs union, the impact of decisions about the single market, and the impact on jobs in our constituencies before, not after, we vote on the withdrawal agreement? The ramifications of these decisions are immense.

The amendments are about strengthening the power of Parliament, no matter what kind of Brexit we think is best, and no matter what our politics or party membership. The amendments are about the health and resilience of our democracy, and about us all working together to get these crucial decisions right.