It has been said that in the EU referendum last year, the British people voted to ‘take back control’ of our laws. For many, that meant a powerful reassertion of Parliamentary sovereignty. As such, we parliamentarians have a solemn duty to scrutinise the actions of the executive. On no subject is this scrutiny more important and more necessary than Brexit.
Members of all parties have already provided valuable scrutiny to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, and we have forced the Government into some concessions. But little of that will matter unless we can have a truly meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement the Government negotiates with the European Union.
Far too often, Ministers have flouted the rights of Parliament in this process, seeking exceptional powers to take the UK out of the EU on a bad deal, or with no agreement at all. This is unacceptable.
Ministers have committed to enshrining the withdrawal agreement in legislation which must be passed through Parliament. But there are no guarantees that this would be in any way meaningful. Were the Government to be defeated, they could still crash the UK out of the Union with no deal. There is no prescription for how much detail must be provided in the Bill. And we could even find ourselves in the absurd position of voting on the exit agreement after the UK has left.
That is why we believe it to be vital that colleagues from across the House vote on Wednesday to give Parliament a properly meaningful say on Brexit by supporting Amendment 7 to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, tabled by the former Conservative Attorney General Dominic Grieve MP. It helps ensure a meaningful vote comes before exit day and that the terms of our withdrawal should be approved by way of a legally binding Act of Parliament, which should be passed before the Prime Minister signs any agreement.
We understand the pressures colleagues face to vote ‘the right way.’ But this is a matter of the national interest, and that interest must come first. Let us stand up for the sovereignty of Parliament and the people we were sent here to represent.
Chuka Umunna MP, Co-Chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations (Labour)
Anna Soubry MP, Co-Chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations (Conservative)
Jonathan Edwards MP, Vice-Chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations (Plaid)
Stephen Gethins MP, Vice-Chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations (SNP)
Caroline Lucas MP, Vice-Chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations (Green)
Jo Swinson MP, Vice-Chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations (Liberal Democrat)