European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:29 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 4:29 pm, 4th September 2019

I want to refer briefly to the remarks of Alistair Burt. I simply want to explain very simply that I was going to intervene because he referred to the sacrifice that people had made in the last war and I want to put it on record that my father was killed in the last war, and I think I understand not only the issues involved in that, but also the fact that he fought for freedom, and I believe that that is our heritage, and that is what we should fight for—not to be governed by other people. I just leave that on the record.

I happen also to very much agree with my right hon. and learned Friend Jeremy Wright on what is an extremely rare occasion when somebody has actually explained, as I have a number of times, that there is nothing in this arrangement that has been foisted upon us that would prevent us from leaving without a deal. We can do so if we wish to do so, and there is nothing in the referendum Act, or any question in the Act, which constrains us from that course of action.

Fundamentally, I simply want to make the following point. I would not call this the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill; I would call it the European Union (Subservience) Bill. We have only to look at the words in the Bill, and in the very short time that I have available I will simply refer to a few of its phrases. Clause 1 says:

“The Prime Minister must seek to obtain from the European Council an extension of the period”.

Clause 3 states:

“If the European Council decides to agree an extension…the Prime Minister must, immediately after such a decision is made, notify the President of the European Council that the United Kingdom agrees to the proposed extension” and so on.

Clause 4 says, in relation to the withdrawal Act of 2018 that, where regulations are to be made, for the definition of exit day

“for ‘may’
substitute ‘must’.”

This is a disgraceful reversal of our constitutional arrangements. We operate in a free Parliament where we have elections that are taken periodically—every five years as a normal rule—and we make our decisions. We have a system of parliamentary Government, not government by Parliament; that is a fundamental constitutional principle. This Bill offends that principle, and that is why I am deeply opposed to its proposals.