Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Article 50 will be triggered next week on Wednesday March 29 - thoughts and analysis of the recent debates in the Commons and Lords

I have received a lot of correspondence on this issue, particularly as the Art 50 Bill has been debated in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I did not support the Lords Amendments. You may not agree with my approach, but I hope you will see that I have set out my reasoning both here and repeatedly over the last few weeks on the blog.
For example this is my blog from January:

There are a number of issues that I have had to consider carefully.
First, should the Brexit Bill have been amended?  I think the government has the right to pass a 10 line piece of legislation that allows it to trigger article 50, following and to enact the referendum result, without the Bill being fettered by individual clauses that mandate certain outcomes.  To add clauses to the Bill would risk judicial proceedings and definite further delay, as well as tying the Government’s hands when it comes to its negotiations.  For that reason, I did not support any amendments. These matters of genuine concern to many will be dealt with separately over the coming months and years. 
Second, let me try and address the discreet issue of what should we do to secure the rights of European nationals living here?  Everyone wants the Government and the EU to agree, and grant EU nationals already residing here the right to permanently remain.  However, I understand the position of the UK government, that it also wishes to secure the rights of the million + UK nationals living in the EU at the same time.  I am also pleased that the Government has made it clear that securing the rights of EU nationals will be its first priority post the triggering of art 50.  I am well aware of the uncertainty that this situation generates, and am meeting local residents affected by this shortly.
The fair point also to be made is that the government tried to resolve this matter earlier this spring but several eu countries objected until article 50 had been triggered.

Third, the government has already said that Parliament will have a vote on the final deal.  The Lords amendment - that they ultimately decided not to pursue - effectively amounted to a wrecking amendment. I listened to the debate and accept the assurances that there will be a meaningful debate and vote at the end of the process, without effectively putting a veto on the whole process of the June 2016 referendum.
For those who want to read more of the debate itself then please go here:

Finally, some have asked about access to the single market?  Apart from the rights of EU nationals, this is the most important issue, as it both affects our trade with the EU, and our right to trade with other countries, and also has an impact on free movement.  We will formally leave the single market when we leave the EU – that is the only outcome.  The Government’s challenge, therefore, is to try and recreate, as much as possible, the benefits of the single market, which is so important to many of our industries, from car manufacturing to broadcasting to agriculture.  I want the Government to ensure that our businesses have the best access possible to European markets after Brexit. 
As you can see from the above, there are a huge amount of issues that need to be dealt with. I tried to persuade the country to vote Remain, but that was not the outcome.  Brexit will consume our energies for many years to come, and I believe it will cause uncertainty to the country for a while. But given that there was a clear vote, I believe that we need to get behind the PM and make a success of this. You don't get to pick and choose your democracy.