It is my understanding that the Government have done nothing illegal in putting this Bill before Parliament. After all, debating and amending Bills is the purpose of this place. For the Government to bring this Bill before Parliament for it to be scrutinised, amended and put through only reaffirms the sovereignty of Parliament. As the withdrawal Act reasserts the sovereignty of Parliament, it would be flawed to conclude that the laying of this Bill breaks any law.
Furthermore, right hon. and hon. Members should remind themselves that the reasoning behind the Bill is to protect the greatest Union of nations that has ever existed. In 2016, it was the people of that Union who voted to leave the European Union in a referendum. They did not vote to be broken up. My constituents in Don Valley voted overwhelmingly for our country to leave and re-establish our place in the world as a sovereign, independent state once again. The European Union needs to accept that. After all, it was only yesterday that the Leader of the Opposition wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that “both sides” should
“hunker down in good faith and break the logjam.”
Unfortunately, after recent reports from our own negotiating team, the EU does not appear to be conducting negotiations in any form of good faith. It is due to this lack of good faith from the EU that the Government, and rightly so, have formulated this Bill to protect the Union. While I understand the reasons why some hon. and right hon. Members have reservations about the Bill, it is the best way for the Government to send a clear message to the European Union that we are serious about protecting the internal market.
Before I became a Member of Parliament, I watched this House debate our withdrawal from the EU and tear itself apart in front of the eyes of the country, the European Union and the world. It was this chaos that strengthened the European Union’s position and led it to pressure the then Government to sign up to a withdrawal agreement that was rejected three times by this House. We must not let this happen again. Most Members, including me, still want to deal with the European Union, yet only by uniting behind this Bill can we sufficiently strengthen our negotiating team’s position. I fear that if the European Union yet again sees this place divided, it will carry on acting in bad faith and continue to act unreasonably. I therefore urge hon. and right hon. Members to support the Bill so that this Parliament can show unity, protect the Union, and uphold the will of the British people.