Theresa May accused of hijacking democracy as she stacks Brexit committee with Tories [OPINION]

Theresa May EU citizens
Ben Janaway

Claims of a ‘power grab’ are flying, with Theresa May accused of a plot to hijack a key Brexit Committee. And with May’s power in doubt, and a recent ploy to circumvent EU legislation under fire, this move is blatant bluster. Even worse still, there is no guarantee that legislation passed will protect citizen’s rights. May’s desperation to enforce her illusory mandate could cost the UK dearly.

Power Grab

Concern rests with the supreme powers of the Committee of Selection. It will hammer out the Repeal Bill, legislation incorporating EU law into UK law. And the committee decides which laws are debated and ‘corrected’ in Parliament throughout the EU transition. Using archaic legislation, ‘Statutory Instruments’ can be used to bypass such debate. And this effectively means a biased committee can decide what it wants on our behalf.

Accordingly, without a majority in the Commons, the committee must balance out. And this means that any amendment is meaningfully debated. But the Conservatives are insisting on taking majority control. And by loading the committee with loyalists, May is able to do so. Therefore ‘corrections‘ to existing laws, up to 1,000, may pass without a Commons debate.

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There is a growing fear that the use of such powers will open the door to May simply dictating what she wants. Or more likely, answering the prayers of outspoken ideologues. And having already failed to secure a parliamentary majority, the attempt to bias the committee may be seen as a second try. Previously the use of similar powers has already been described as a ‘power grab’. A source told The Independent:

The Tories are trying to pretend the election didn’t happen and that they still have a majority – and, therefore, should have the majority on this committee.

No guarantee of rights

Furthermore, there is concern around the Conservatives when it comes to protecting the UK. Already criticised heavily on workers rights, the adaptation of EU law to UK offers the Conservatives unusually strong powers to enforce law. Therefore, worries about this government abusing powers without offering any assurance of protecting the UK may be well founded.

May has already turned heads by threatening to ‘rip up‘ the Human Rights Act. And she also stands accused of deliberately risking the nation’s health through systematically destroying the NHS. With an uncontrolled power to amend legislation offered by EU withdrawal, the damage could be catastrophic. Scarily, a government accused of ignoring the rights of its people may be about to gain the powers of a dictatorship.

Discontent becomes action

With so much at stake, the first cracks in May’s veneer are growing. Conservative MP Anna Soubry has been the first to threaten resignation over the party’s Brexit crusade. A stoic contingent of the population questions the legitimacy of not just the Conservatives, but Brexit itself. There grows a divide even within The Conservative Party, and a stacked committee will likely cause further instability.

With May’s grip weakening, her attempts to circumvent both law and democracy are becoming more desperate. The Conservatives’ hold on Brexit is slipping, and this latest move may be grasping at thin air. The very sovereignty sought in leaving the EU may be sacrificed to do so. A ‘hard Brexit’ made to appease isolated populists may become the noose by which Britain hangs itself.

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– Read more Canary articles on Brexit.

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Featured image via Flickr

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