United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:06 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Nicola Richards Nicola Richards Conservative, West Bromwich East 9:06 pm, 14th September 2020

I would like to start by saying that the Government are right to bring this Bill forward. It protects the Union of the United Kingdom, safeguards Northern Ireland and paves the way for the return of many of our laws from Brussels. There has been a lot of talk in the media and from the Opposition about the supposed illegal nature of this Bill if it becomes law, but this Bill does not itself break international law. Many commentators seem to think that passing the Bill means that we are immediately breaching the withdrawal agreement, but the Bill is simply a safeguard in case no trade agreement is reached with the EU. Should Ministers end up using the powers made available to them under this Bill, the withdrawal agreement could indeed be broken, but it is clear that this is very much the last resort.

Let us face it: most EU member states are not squeaky clean on these issues. On Thursday 10 September, the European Court of Auditors reported that 15 EU states had breached EU rules in agreeing bilateral commercial deals with China that it has identified as having both political and economic risks, as well as having violated EU rules by bypassing the European Commission before they completed those trade deals. It is this level of hypocrisy and double standards that I and the people of West Bromwich East recognised prior to casting our votes in 2016, and it is what spurred 68% of my constituents to vote to leave. As has been made obvious throughout these negotiations, it is the EU that is not for turning.

I have spoken before about this level of hypocrisy, both in this Chamber and to Mr Barnier himself when he appeared before the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union. On 5 May, the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the European Central Bank’s 2015 policy to buy bonds as part of its quantitative easing stimulus package was not covered by its mandate. The German courts ruled that they had the ability to determine when and if Germany is subordinate to EU law. Mr Barnier dismissed my points. He said it was unfortunate, but not relevant to Brexit, but it most certainly is because, for the first time in history, a national court refused to submit to the European Court of Justice as a member state. So why, as an independent state, should the UK be subject to EU law in our future relationship, while Germany seems to believe its domestic courts can supersede ECJ rulings on monetary policy?

The EU does not recognise this hypocrisy, but my constituents do, so if the EU does not like this Bill, there is a very simple solution. It should drop its arbitrary red lines, get around the table in a good spirit and do a trade deal that we can accept. The fact that we have to go to these lengths to protect the Union of the UK further highlights the absurdity of the situation and why we voted to leave. I would urge all Members in this place to put the Union of the United Kingdom above the European Union and pass this Bill tonight.