Future Relationship Between the UK and the EU

Part of Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:59 pm on 18th July 2018.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 5:59 pm, 18th July 2018

I am glad to follow Hilary Benn because he talked about sovereignty, although he rather distorted the focus of it, to put it bluntly, and I will explain why in a moment.

Brexit is ultimately about our democracy, our sovereignty and our self-government. All the other issues, including our right to free trade with the rest of the world, are subsidiary to the questions of sovereignty, self-government and democracy because they flow from them. This is the ultimate test. To get our sovereignty and our democracy, and to get it right, we must govern ourselves. I am deeply concerned about the White Paper and the Chequers settlement for that reason, and I will set out what I believe will be the practical outcome.

We have managed to achieve something quite remarkable, which is to turn the gold of democracy into the base metal of subservience—a new kind of alchemy. In other words, we have effectively turned leaving into not leaving in a whole range of areas, despite the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 and despite the EU (Withdrawal) Act itself, the promises made in the Conservative party manifesto and, of course, the result of the 2016 referendum.

The European Scrutiny Committee, of which I have the honour to be Chairman, unanimously criticised the Government a few months ago. We argued that they are supplicating themselves to the EU and accepting its guidelines, contrary to our lawful departure under article 50, which gives us the legal authority to leave under the treaties. That is a massive strategic mistake. We have summoned Mr Olly Robbins to appear before our Committee and, although the Prime Minister originally was not prepared to allow him to come, he will be appearing before the Committee—that was resolved this morning.