Leaving the Eu: Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:01 pm on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 4:01 pm, 12th June 2019

I have to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman, for this reason: the decision that was taken as I have just described and the vote that was passed by a significant majority on 23 June 2016 was authorised by an Act of Parliament. Therefore, the voters were given the opportunity because this House decided to abrogate its right to make those decisions. That was a deliberate choice taken by this Parliament, by six to one, to ensure that those people have the right to make that decision. That is the basis on which I rest my argument, because ultimately any attempt to bypass that raises the most dangerous questions relating to the nature of our democracy. We have had many warnings as to what might happen if this were to be unwound, and it is my concern that this phantom Bill will do just that, for the reasons that lie behind the right hon. Gentleman’s question and intervention. He does not want Brexit at all, and I said this on Second Reading of the withdrawal Bill; I did not believe that Members of this House who were pretending that they were prepared to allowed Brexit had any intention of allowing it to take place. That is what this is really all about.

I also take the gravest exception to what is being done by some Conservative colleagues who voted in line with the Government’s policy in the manifesto to pass enactments that led to our ending up with the withdrawal Act, which I happen to have drafted in its original form, early in 2016. To have that completely undermined and unwound by their reversing their votes is completely unacceptable. It is unacceptable for people to vote for a vast and important question of this kind and then to unravel it completely by subsequent manoeuvres, including the use of phantom motions and phantom Bills. I believe very strongly that that is unacceptable. It is completely inconsistent with our constitutional role as the mother of Parliaments. It is inconsistent with every single aspect of our constitutional conventions, and therefore as far as I am concerned the motion should not be passed.

It would be unwise—I will go further and say it would be a disgrace—for Members who voted for the withdrawal Act to turn around and say, “But we’re going to try to reverse it” on the basis of a Bill that does not even exist at the moment yet about which they have prattled on right the way through these proceedings.