David Davis: Lords amendments would undermine Brexit

Protesters outside ParliamentImage copyrightAFP

The House of Lords should not “undermine” the UK’s EU exit, Brexit Secretary David Davis has told MPs. MORE

Opening debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill, Mr Davis said a bid to give Parliament more control over Brexit would tie ministers’ hands and lead to a bad deal for the UK.

Conservative MPs have been urged not to rebel against the government’s attempts to kill off Lords amendments.

But the government was hit by a resignation ahead of the votes.

Justice Minister Phillip Lee said Parliament was being sidelined and that he could not support “how our country’s exit from the EU looks set to be delivered”.

Starting two days of Commons debate, Mr Davis told MPs the bill’s “primary purpose” was to ensure a “functioning statute book” on the day the UK leaves the EU, 29 March 2019.

The most tightly-contested amendment is expected to be a call for Parliament to decide what happens next if it does not like the UK-EU Brexit deal.

Other amendments being debated are on removing the precise day of Brexit from the wording of the bill, and scrutinising ministers’ powers to make changes to laws when they are repatriated from Brussels.

The first votes are expected to happen from 16:15 BST.

Speaker: Vote as your conscience dictates

Media captionJohn Bercow tells MPs not to be intimidated

Minister resigns over Brexit

Former minister Phillip LeeImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Lee has called for a referendum on the final Brexit deal

Phillip Lee has been a junior justice minister since July 2016, having first been elected as the Bracknell MP in 2010.

Explaining the reasons for his resignation, he cited the government’s opposition to the “meaningful vote” amendment, saying this position “breaches fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty”.

He also raised concerns about the economic impact of leaving the EU, saying Brexit had turned out to be much more complicated than first thought.

The UK should “pause, extend or revoke” the Article 50 process which formally triggered its departure from the EU, he said, calling for another referendum once ministers’ chosen path becomes clear.

Pro-EU campaigners hailed his resignation as significant in their calls for a referendum on the UK and EU’s final Brexit deal.

Brexit-backing former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said he was surprised, adding: “I didn’t realise he felt this strongly.”

Mr Duncan Smith said the amendment giving more power to Parliament would be “disastrous” and allow the House of Lords to “block the whole passage of Brexit”.

Final say for Parliament?

Media captionBrexit Secretary tells Today the EU referendum is “irreversible”

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the numbers were still “rather dicey” for the so-called meaningful vote amendment.

It would mean ministers “must follow any direction” set by a House of Commons motion if Parliament rejects the final Brexit deal or negotiations run out of time.

The government says this would bind the UK’s hands in the negotiations.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Davis said a Parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal did not give “the ability to reverse the decision of the referendum”.

Asked what would happen if MPs rejected the deal, he said there would be no time to restart negotiations, with the UK leaving the EU in March 2019.

“If they throw it out, well they throw it out,” he said.

Rebels have dismissed the government’s amendment, a commitment by ministers to make a statement within 28 days should MPs vote down the package negotiated by Mrs May.

Customs compromise deal?

Pro-Brexit demonstrators
Image captionPro and anti-Brexit protesters demonstrated outside Parliament ahead of the votes

A showdown over customs seems to have been averted after a compromise amendment was accepted by the government – which means it has agreed to report to Parliament by October on efforts to negotiate a “customs arrangement” with the EU after Brexit.

The fallback position has won the backing of a cross-section of leading Tory MPs on either side of the Brexit argument, avoiding for now a showdown over calls – backed by the House of Lords earlier this year – for the UK to remain in a fully-fledged customs union with the EU after it leaves.

Mr Davis said a “great deal of progress” had been made in negotiations, saying he was expecting both a withdrawal agreement and the “substance” of the UK and EU’s future relationship to be finalised in October.

He also described as “nonsense” reports he threatened to resign over the wording of last week’s “backstop” plan to avoid border checks in Northern Ireland.

A big week for Brexit

Media captionWhat is the EU customs union?

The EU withdrawal bill is the legislation aimed at ensuring the UK has a smooth transition out of the EU, and will mean EU law is no longer supreme in the UK.

To avoid a sudden “cliff edge” on Brexit day, 29 March 2019, it would also convert existing EU law into UK law so the government and Parliament can decide at a later date which bits they want to keep or change.

The House of Lords has put forward 15 specific changes to the bill, but the government wants to kill off most of these changes.

However, numbers in the House of Commons are finely balanced, with the Conservatives not having a majority and needing the help of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to get their way.

May: Send the EU a message

On Monday, Mrs May told her MPs they “must think about the message Parliament will send to the European Union this week”.

“I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the EU which is as frictionless as possible,” she said.

“But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined.”

Labour, which is backing 14 out of the 15 amendments, is urging Tory rebels to seize the chance to “decisively shape the course of the negotiations”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party is also divided on Brexit, with several MPs unhappy Labour is not backing a bid to keep the UK part of the EU’s single market, like Norway.

Laura Kuenssberg: Squeaky moment or not?

There is still a chance of a squeaky moment for the government, or having to rely on votes from some Labour MPs, on a move to give Parliament more power if MPs vote to reject the final Brexit deal.

Sources tell me the numbers are still rather dicey for that so called “meaningful vote” amendment that will take place tomorrow.

There are discussions ongoing among potential rebels about whether they should deploy their forces.

Some of them believe, as they do on the customs issue, that they have the numbers to beat the government if they decide it’s the right moment. Appeals for party unity in the last couple of days, and the compromise on customs seem to have had some sway.

The key dates ahead on Brexit

What MPs will be voting on

The government opposes the following Lords amendments:

  • Granting new powers to oversee changes made to EU law by the government
  • Removing the precise day of Brexit from the wording of the bill
  • Removing a section allowing ministers to use secondary legislation to establish when individuals can challenge the validity of retained EU law after exit
  • Only let ministers use delegated powers to amend retained EU law where “necessary”
  • Preventing ministers from using delegated powers to implement the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement
  • Make staying in the European Economic Area, like Norway, a “negotiating objective” for the UK
  • Transferring the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law
  • Allowing “enhanced scrutiny” when ministers use delegated powers to change EU employment, equality health and safety, consumer and environment rules

The government has proposed its own version of these ones:

  • Giving Parliament the power to decide what happens if MPs and peers reject the final Brexit deal
  • Explicitly preserving cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic and commit to no new border arrangements without the agreement of the UK and Irish governments
  • Allowing people to challenge UK law if it fails to comply with the general principles of EU law
  • Forcing ministers to maintain EU environmental principles in domestic law after Brexit
  • Compelling ministers to aim for a deal allowing unaccompanied child refugees to join relatives in the UK

The government has accepted this amendment:

  • Allowing the UK to replicate EU law made after Brexit day and continue to participate in EU agencies

The government is backing a compromise backbench amendment on this:

  • Forcing the government to report on “steps taken to negotiate a customs union with the EU” by 31 October

Related Topics


Barristers end industrial action over cuts to fees!?!

  • Royal Court of JusticeImage copyrightPA

Thousands of barristers have voted to end industrial action over fees, which has disrupted court cases in England and Wales. MORE

They accepted a £15m Ministry of Justice (MoJ) offer to raise payment rates for reading documents in trials.

More than 3,000 barristers voted in the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) ballot.

The MoJ welcomed the result, but the CBA warned that “anger and disillusionment” remained, adding “the criminal bar is not going to be quiet”.

A spokesperson for the MoJ said it was “the right outcome for all – not least victims, witnesses and anyone encountering the criminal justice system.”

The £15m will go to the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS) – the public pay pot for barristers doing criminal legal aid defence work.

More than half of the new funding will be for fraud, drug and child sex cases which tend to be complex and evidence-heavy.

The offer was accepted with 51.5% of lawyers in favour and 48.45% against.

Presentational grey line

Analysis by home affairs correspondent June Kelly

Barristers on strike has always been an unusual headline.

In April their day of action across England and Wales affected a murder trial at the country’s most famous criminal court, the Old Bailey. There was no barrister to represent the accused.

The Criminal Bar Association said their action was in response to “an underfunded justice system which was in chaos.” The Ministry of Justice described the disruption as unacceptable.

The turnout in this ballot over an improved offer from the Ministry of Justice was high at 85 per cent. The vote to accept was slim.

The Criminal Bar Association is stressing that the narrow acceptance of the £15 million offer underlines barristers continuing anger.

It says the figure represents a five per cent increase which does not offset a 40 per cent cut over the previous decade.

Presentational grey line

Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, described the outcome of the ballot as “neither a defeat nor a victory”.

The “anger and disillusionment” remained, she said, and the association was launching a campaign to “improve the lot of prosecutors”.

She said: “This proposal is the beginning and not the end of our campaign to improve the broken system we all work in every day.”

She added: “The Criminal Bar has faced degradation and despair and it still does. This is a step forward. We must all ensure we do not take any more steps back.”

A barrister outside the Royal Courts of JusticeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the government had “worked closely with the Bar throughout this process and listened carefully to their [criminal advocates’] concerns.”

“We understand the strength of feeling that remains and are committed to working with the sector to support and strengthen the profession, making it fit for the modern age and accessible to those who seek to join it.”

Petition2Scrap @nhsparkripoff charges at NHS Hospitals in England @jongaunt @THEJamesWhale @BBCLondon @LBC @FairFuelUK @Number10press @TheSun

 20h20 hours ago

PetitionScrap car parking charges at NHS Hospitals in England

Hospital car parking charges affect the vulnerable, visitors of ill relatives and hardworking NHS staff. The fees are a major cause of social injustice.

Join the campaign to get this stealth tax scrapped, once and for all.

More detailsImage result for sign online petition

Sign this petition

2,885 signatures

Image result for nhs hospital signImage result for ripoff britain


Image result for sign online petition ban hospital parking chargesImage result for ripoff britain
If you don’t pay they cannot enforce it
Image result for sign online petition ban hospital parking charges


At 10,000 signatures…

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition

At 100,000 signatures…

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Share this petition           Write to your politicians,

Image result for Houses of Parliament

Local Radio
Image result for Houses of Parliament mouse mat
Image result for sign online petitionRelated image