Shadow Brexit Secretary and QC Keir Starmer just took apart the government’s Repeal Bill in parliament. On 7 September, Starmer called the government’s Brexit plans an “extraordinary power grab”. Brexit Secretary David Davis and Prime Minister Theresa May look visibly uncomfortable at the damning verdict Starmer delivered on the so-called ‘Henry VIII powers‘.
— BrexitCentral (@BrexitCentral) September 7, 2017
So much for taking back control
Starmer argued that the Repeal Bill represents a direct threat to workers’ rights and health and safety law, according to The Mirror. He said that the bill would give the UK government the “widest possible power” over Britsh citizens’ lives, before adding that it would include “no safeguards channelled into the level of least scrutiny”.
Brexit Secretary David Davis responded saying Labour was misrepresenting the extent of the powers. Davis argued that “without this legislation a smooth and orderly exit is impossible”. In other words, the Brexit Secretary’s claim is as follows: to ensure the UK leaves the European Union by the deadline, we have to grant the government powers that Labour MP Chris Leslie has called “dictatorial”.
So bad even Conservatives are criticising it
Leading Conservatives have also voiced concern about the Repeal Bill and called for changes. Ken Clarke MP has hinted that he may vote against the bill altogether. A string of backbench Conservative MPs may attempt to amend it. And staunch Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith said “there may be elements in here that need some change”.
The real motive behind the Repeal Bill
Starmer has exposed the Conservatives’ plan for what many suspect it really is; another attempt to augment their power. Such power would make it much easier to pass bills. As the Shadow Brexit Secretary said, it would “reduce MPs to spectators”. This “power grab” comes on top of the government’s recent attempt to defy the 2017 General Election result and “rig parliament”, by tabling a motion that would give the Conservatives a majority on all parliamentary committees.
Boris Johnson has been accused of lying to the British people during the Brexit referendum debate. And now David Davis is peddling excuses to pass legislation that will give the government powers that leave little to no room for scrutiny from parliament. Meanwhile, Theresa May called a snap election, reportedly believing she would win a majority of 200 seats.
But none of this is allowing the British public to ‘take back control’. In fact, it’s threatening to hand unchecked power to the Conservative government.
For the sake of the country’s future and for British democracy, we shouldn’t let this happen.
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