Theresa May’s tiny Brexit bill is a massive f**k you to Britain [TWEETS]
Theresa May has published the Brexit bill. And at under 140 words, it is one of the shortest parliamentary bills ever proposed. But it is also essentially a massive two fingers to parliament from May, because the bill gives her government free reign to negotiate whatever kind of Brexit she fancies.
Otherwise known as the European Union (notification of withdrawal bill), it contains two small clauses. The first states:
The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.
And the second:
This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.
In other words, May can trigger Article 50 unconditionally. And parliament only has five days to debate the bill.
Opposition MPs reacted furiously to the bill. Labour Co-operative MP Chris Leslie stated:
The Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the courts to bring this Bill before Parliament and yet they still seem determined to gag parliamentarians as much as possible.
This is the most significant law we’ve ever debated on our relationship with Europe and yet the Government will only give it an eighth of the time that was spent on the Maastricht Treaty.
And he was not alone. Ben Bradshaw branded the bill as “contempt of Parliament”. Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was scathing:
This Bill is short and not sweet. Given how long he’s been campaigning to leave the, it’s amazing this 133 word bill took David Davis such long time – that’s only 5 words a day since Brexit.
Rumours, rumours and more rumours
And in the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn finally admitted he is planning to impose a three-line whip for the vote. This immediately triggered a series of rumours over which MPs will resign.
This rumour mill was reflected in tweets. Sky Political Correspondent Beth Rigby tweeted:
NEW Tulip Siddiq tells me she'll resign from front bench if 3 line whip. MPs saying Clive Lewis/Cat Smith/Dawn Butler/Jo Stevens'll quit too
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) January 26, 2017
Followed an hour and a half later by a retraction/clarification:
NEW: Cat Smith's office say she's staying on. "She has no intention of resigning and intents to vote with the whip" Awaiting Lewis & Stevens
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) January 26, 2017
Subsequently, the rumours of Lewis’ resignation also proved to be false. He confirmed he will be voting for the bill.
And there may well be MPs who defy the party line and resign. But at the time of publication, the majority of the threatened resignations are theoretical speculation.
Despite the small amount of time devoted to parliament debating the bill, MPs will propose amendments. Alex Salmond has already suggested the SNP will propose 50 of them. And as Labour MP Chuka Umunna stated:
Parliament is free to add amendments to the Article 50 Bill and the Great Repeal Bill to make sure it delivers, whether they voted Leave or Remain.
So I would like to see, for example, a commitment to put £350m a week into the NHS that Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Liam Fox and Chris Grayling committed to during the referendum campaign.
It is, therefore, unlikely that the bill will stay quite so short. But, as it stands, both the length of the bill and the time allocated to for debate shows a clear contempt for the parliamentary purpose. And that should worry all of us who don’t want to see our NHS, workers’ rights and environmental protections sold off to the highest bidder.
– Read other articles from The Canary on Brexit.
Featured image via Flickr
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