EU WITHDRAWAL BILL: Labour amendments FAIL as rebellious Tories rally behind May

Posted on Jan 17 2018 - 1:32pm by admin

The Commons voted on three amendments to change the EU Withdrawal Bill – which was put forward by David Davis to repeal EU legislation and transfer it into UK law.

However MPs looking to oppose the Government’s Brexit plan were thwarted – with all amendments in the 4pm voting session failing to gain any traction in the Commons as key Tory rebels ruled themselves out of any last minute acts to water down the bill.

The vote on amendment 57, put forward by Labour MP for Bristol East Kerry McCarthy, failed after 319 MPs voted it down compared to the 296 who were for.

Amendment 57 attempted to preserve EU “rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures” more comprehensively than the EU withdrawal bill currently allows for.

Theresa MayGETTY/PARLY

hey are just some of the slew of amendments that have failed as the bill progresses

And the vote on Labour’s amendment 4, retaining the EU’s charter of fundamental rights as part of UK law, was voted down by 317 votes to 299 despite an impassioned defence from Europhile Tory Kenneth Clarke. 

The Government claimed allowing such an amendment would cause unnecessary confusion for the nation.

Ahead of the vote, Labour’s Chris Leslie said: “It seems very peculiar indeed that the Charter of Fundamental Rights has been explicitly excluded from the carry forward of these particular rights.

“I believe that having verbal assurances from ministers of ‘don’t worry, all of these questions are already covered, common law can deal with these adequately’ is not good enough.”

Anna SoubryGETTY

Anna Soubry, who visited the EU’s Michel BArnier this week, ruled herself out of any rebellion

In the 7pm vote Labour’s Amendment 3, which removed restrictions on devolved assemblies to allow them to legislate on devolved matters, was also crushed by the government with 297 votes for to 321 against. 

Scottish Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird claimed the amendment would have protected the devolution settlement.

Ahead of the vote, he said: “Today I am calling on the Scottish Tories to vote for Labour’s amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which would remove the Westminster power grab.

“The Scottish Tories admitted in December that the Bill was flawed and that changes must be made to Clause 11 – something that was promised to them by the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell.

“Unfortunately these changes did not come, but it is not too late to fix it.

“If they don’t, then peers such as Michelle Mone and Alan Sugar will have more of a say on the future of the Scottish Parliament than elected MPs.

“The people of Scotland voted for MPs to represent their interests at Westminster. Passing the bill unamended to the House of Lords is passing the buck and it is an insult to each of those voters.”

Meanwhile New Clause 7, which sought to stick to EU rules over the recognition of animal sentience, failed by 320 votes to 297.

The clause was put forward by the Green party’s only MP Caroline Lucas, however Conservative MPs have argued the nation will have a better opportunity to protect animal rights away from the edicts of Brussels.

They are just three of the slew of amendments that have failed as the bill makes its way through the parliamentary process before being passed on to the House of Lords.

So far only one has managed to be attached to the bill – Dominic Grieve’s New Clause 13 which enshrines in law parliament’s right to a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.

Anna Soubry, who supported Mr Grieve’s bill, confirmed she would not attempt to vote against the Government in today’s proceedings in a blow to Labour’s hopes of cross-party support.

She said: “I won’t be supporting any other amendments, other than those put forward by the Government.

“This Bill certainly is leaving this place, or will leave this place, in much better shape than it first came in.

“However, it is still not in the sort of place that it should be in. It is still, frankly, not fit for purpose.”

In a string of later amendments tabled by the Government, Mrs May’s side won yet again by 317 to 297.

ParliamentPARLY

The bill is due to be passed onto the Lords following the next phase of Commons votes

It comes as Labour MPs attempt to fight back the bill amid claims it gives Theresa May’s government unprecedented powers to pass laws without parliamentary scrutiny.

Rights groups have also hit out at the use of so called ‘Henry VIII’ powers to bypass the commons.

Rachel Logan, Amnesty International UK’s Legal Programme Director, said: “MPs will rue the day they signed away their right to properly scrutinise changes to laws after Brexit.

“Ministers are being issued with a blank cheque to rewrite laws and curtail rights on a whim without the proper scrutiny of parliament.

“There’s a dark irony to the fact that much of the rhetoric around Brexit referred to increasing the power of the UK parliament, yet this Bill strips parliamentary debate out of the process.

“That puts our hard-won rights at risk.”

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