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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 6:30 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 6:30 pm, 4th September 2019

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point, which goes to the heart of the crucial issue about our democracy that Patrick Grady raised from a sedentary position. One of the features that many of us found most objectionable about the withdrawal agreement was precisely that for a long and unspecified transition period that could have stretched on for many months—it was not clear what would end it—we would be under any new law that the European Union wished to impose on us, with no vote, voice or ability to influence that law.

At the moment, as a full member, we have some influence. We have a vote, and sometimes we manage to water down or delay something, but in the transition period we would have none of those rights. Any of the existing massive panoply of European law could be amended or changed by decisions of the European Court of Justice, and that would be binding on the United Kingdom. This is completely unacceptable for a democratic country—that, when a majority of people in a democratic referendum voted to take back control of their laws, their Parliament then says, “No; far too difficult a job for us. We don’t want to participate in this process. We don’t want to take control of your laws. We want to delegate most of them, in many fields, to the European Union and have a foreign court developing our law for us in ways that we might find completely objectionable.” None of the amendments that I have just been mentioning, in the names of my hon. Friend Richard Graham, Stephen Kinnock and others, intending to find a compromise, tackles this fundamental obstacle to the withdrawal agreement and to the idea that we can somehow negotiate our way out of the European Union if it does not think we just intend to leave.