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Duties in connection with the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 5:45 pm, 4th September 2019

The question I raise in this series of amendments relates in particular, as I said in my brief speech just now, to the extent to which the United Kingdom is put under a duty—an obligation —to be subservient to the European Union. I find this Bill deeply offensive for that reason alone, and, as I said earlier, our whole parliamentary constitutional arrangement is based on the fact that we make decisions in general elections by the free will of the British people in a secret ballot. When those decisions are taken and the results come out in the respective constituencies and a majority or otherwise is arrived at to decide upon the composition of this House of Commons, that is a free Parliament based on a secret ballot and on the free choice of the British people.

I believe that we are heading for a general election, and I think that that will sort out a lot of the problems we are currently experiencing with this Bill and, indeed, in relation to the whole question of satisfying the decision taken by the British people in the referendum, and indeed by this House on frequent occasions with the referendum Act itself by six to one, the notification of withdrawal Act by 499 to 120, and then again the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Every single Conservative MP voted for that Act, which clearly stated that we would leave the European Union and repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on exit day, which is 31 October. That is categorically the law of the land, so the whole concept of our democracy, which is somehow or other being subverted by this Bill, is actually already in place; this has been decided and I see absolutely no justification whatsoever for seeking to reverse it. I also see no justification for reversing the votes that my hon. Friends have themselves already cast over and over again in favour of not only the referendum Act—it was also in the manifesto—but also the notification of withdrawal Act, and the withdrawal Act itself?

So I can see no justification for the majority in this House, because although this measure scraped through by 29 votes, we know where the votes came from. There is no doubt about it; they came from former Conservative Members of Parliament, and some who are unfortunately —I think by their own choice—in a position where they have had the Whip taken away from them.

I regret that; I saw it happen on a previous occasion with the Maastricht treaty, although it did not happen to me personally, but I can only say that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.