Will it be ‘Legislative War’ ?

Will it be ‘Legislative War’ ? Tom Brake looks ahead to the Parliamentary battles over the Great Repeal Bill

By Tom Brake, Jul 18, 2017 10:07

On April 18th, Theresa May called a General Election asking for a mandate towards a divisive and destructive exit from the European Union.

During her speech she attacked opposition parties for "jeopardising" the Brexit preparations and "weakening" the Government’s negotiating position.

Fast-forward almost three months later and how ironic that her Government, after a year of arrogantly slapping down her critics is now calling for unity, ideas and collaboration.

You will excuse me for doubting the genuineness of her comments. For starters, how about retaining membership of the single market and the customs union, a 1p raise in income tax to fund our NHS, investing £300 million in the police or £7 billion extra in children’s education.

As the new Parliamentary session gets underway and the Repeal Bill is introduced, the ball is in her court.

At the moment, the Government’s absolutist and extreme version of Brexit leaves the Liberal Democrats with no other choice than to prepare for ‘legislative war’.

We begin this process recognising this moment as a chance to bring back some pragmatism into the Brexit debate. A moment to finally focus on substance rather than the empty platitudes offered so far by the Brexiteers. A moment to recalibrate the debate to focus on the economic interests and future prosperity of our nation.

I hope that the PM will worry less about appeasing the “kippers” within her own party and listen to the mounting evidence against her extreme Brexit.

If the Government fails to listen the Repeal Bill risks looking like a Christmas tree with branches weighted down with the number of amendments.

If the Government fails to listen the Repeal Bill risks looking like a Christmas tree with branches weighted down with the number of amendments.

We will push the Government to maintain the high standards for the environment, health, safety, consumer protection, employment and equalities that the UK currently adheres to as an EU member.

After all, nobody voted to diminish their rights, make themselves poorer or to make their country less safe.

Nobody voted to diminish their rights, make themselves poorer or to make their country less safe.

And we will of course fight for membership of the single market, customs union and of sensible European institutions like Euratom.

Just in the last week, it’s become clear that MPs from all of the main parties are ready to oppose the decision to pull out of Euratom as part of the Brexit process.

The Government’s position on Euratom is a striking example of how their self-imposed red lines, like their dogmatic obsession with leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and their lack of flexibility are putting our future at risk.

Any international agreement will need a dispute resolution mechanism, and it seems the only issue the Tories have with the ECJ is that it has the word European in front of it.

Theresa May would rather put Britain’s nuclear industry, and it’s 78,000 jobs, at risk so she can keep Gove, Fox, Farage and Boris on board.

Theresa May would rather put Britain’s nuclear industry, and it’s 78,000 jobs, at risk so she can keep Gove, Fox, Farage and Boris on board.

If you think I’m exaggerating, just read the comments this week from Dr Nicola Strickland, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, who warned that “Brexatom” could threaten the supply of imported radio isotopes used to perform around half a million scans in the UK a year.

Euratom is just the beginning of a series of very tricky decisions for a Government with very little room for manoeuvre.

The next few weeks will tell if Theresa May is ready to listen, compromise and accept that she doesn’t hold a monopoly on the best ideas.

The Liberal Democrats will be a constructive opposition in this and will play our part in bringing the country together, working with people of all parties and none, to ensure we stop Theresa May's extreme Brexit and to deliver a referendum on the deal, with a chance to remain in the EU at the end of the process.

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