UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 2:15 pm, 14th March 2019

I entirely agree. I was concerned by what I heard, and I will add that I have always believed, since the backstop’s origin on 8 December 2017, that the bottom line here was that the door would be opened to the prospect of the Taoiseach being able to hold a border poll and to maintain the aspiration for a united Ireland.

Secondly, the Prime Minister has assured me on the Floor of the House that the express repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 contained in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 would be restated in the withdrawal and implementation Bill, as enacted, including therefore the exit date of 29 March. In respect of any disapplication by the courts under article 4 of the withdrawal agreement, combined with sections 5 and 6 of the 2018 Act, the Bill would need to contain an express exclusion of the power of the courts to disapply the repeal of the 1972 Act and other related Acts. It is dangerous that, according to article 4 of the withdrawal agreement, we have been given an arrangement under the withdrawal and implementation Bill whereby the courts would be able to disapply enactments, even potentially including the 2018 Act itself or aspects of it. The repeal of the 1972 Act is the statutory anchor of the referendum vote.

There are also issues of international law with respect to the compliance of international obligations arising from the withdrawal agreement, which includes the fact in international law that the agreement, as yet unsigned even now, was negotiated in the certain and understood knowledge in the European Union that we had enacted the repeal of the 1972 Act, subject only to the question of exit day, which we are now considering. The repeal itself is paramount, and it also applies to the backstop and the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom. It is essential that the repeal is maintained within the framework of the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, as I have repeatedly stated with respect to the question of control over laws. To repeat what I said to the Prime Minister two days ago, she said at Lancaster House—this is a fact and it is law—that we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws.