Thank you to everyone who emailed me regarding the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. As always, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents who voted to remain in the EU and (like me) have major concerns about Brexit.
My Labour colleagues and I believe that, as drafted, this bill is fatally flawed. It puts huge and unaccountable power into the hands of government ministers, side-lines Parliament on key decisions and puts crucial rights and protections at risk. Far from bringing control back to Parliament, it would result in a power-grab for Tory Ministers.
As you may already be aware, on Monday evening I voted against allowing the bill to progress to the next stage. Unfortunately, the Tories managed to scrape together enough votes to pass it by 326 votes to 290. We must now seek to amend this deeply flawed bill during the committee stage. MPs (including some senior Tory backbenchers) have already tabled more than 150 amendments.
On Tuesday night the Government attempted another power grab, this time looking to side-line opposition in Parliament by rigging the select committee system so that they are guaranteed a majority on each committee.
Previous governments have passed motions to ensure they retain a majority on committees, but they have always been linked to the Government maintaining an overall majority in the House of Commons. As you know, the current Tory Government does not have a majority in the House and is relying on its agreement with the DUP.
Despite our best attempts, the Government also won this vote by 320 to 301.
The minority Tory Government is fast losing its moral authority and the very people who told us Brexit was about restoring parliamentary sovereignty are now voting through measures that will side-line Parliament and grant ministers unprecedented powers.
Labour recognises that legislation is needed to ensure there are no gaps or drop in rights and protections as we leave the EU. But I can assure you that we will not give the Government a blank cheque to drive through this divisive and deficient bill.