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Parliamentary sovereignty

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 8th January 2020.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 4:45 pm, 8th January 2020

Good advice, but I am trying to address the SNP point related to its proposals on how we treat devolved government fairly and whether we are listening properly to Scotland. I think that we are very much listening to Scotland, but we have to understand that the matter of the Union is a responsibility of the Union Parliament, and that the matter of our membership of the European Union is a responsibility of the European Parliament. It is the hon. Lady’s misfortune to have been on the wrong side in two referendums, but there has been a deeply democratic process in both cases, as to whether Scotland stays in the Union and whether we stay in the EU.

I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to remember that there is a fourth country in our Union: the country of England. We are very reasonable people, and we do not go on and on about English issues. However, when we get to this debate over how the different parts of the United Kingdom are consulted and respond to the issue of how we leave the EU, England too needs a voice within the Government and needs to be seen as an important part of the process.

The overwhelming vote for Brexit was an English vote because in numbers, England is a very large part of the Union. That is important, just as the Scottish and Northern Irish view is. I hope that the Government will look at this machinery of government issue and make sure that there is, within Government, a clear and definitive English voice. In due course, I think that we need to discuss whether this Parliament should have an English Grand Committee that can not only veto proposals that England does not like, but make proposals that England wants, because that would do something to correct the obvious imbalances that make this a particularly difficult matter to settle, when the largest part of the Union, with the overwhelming Brexit vote, is not formally represented in the discussions.