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News From Westminster- By David Warburton MP

In my beginning is my end. A year back, at the start of 2017, the talk was all of Brexit, its implications and possible procedures.  And now again, as that year has limped to its battered close, it’s all still about Brexit.

This week, parliament will end eight days of debate at the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.  You’re in a better position to know than I am as I write this, but I suspect that the government’s defeat last week on Amendment 7 will be the only defeat at this stage. And that one defeat was a pretty strange one.

I could say that it was quite a coincidence that those who fought with such vigour, from the government benches, for additional parliamentary oversight are the same people who have supported with equal vigour our relationship with the European Union, the origin of two-thirds of our laws, the vast majority of which have not been allowed one crumb of debate in Parliament. I could say that, but I won’t.

I could also point out that the Amendment, asking for a parliamentary vote on the future EU deal, was already guaranteed. The vote promised would have taken the form of a resolution in both Houses of Parliament and would have covered both the Withdrawal Agreement and the terms for our future relationship.

In addition, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 requires the Government ensure any treaty deal is ratified by the House of Commons.  If the House resolves against ratification, the government can lay a statement explaining why it considers the treaty should still be ratified and the House may decide whether to resolve again against ratification. The government is only able to ratify the agreement if the Commons does not resolve against the agreement.

Plus, if parliament supports the resolution to proceed with the Withdrawal Agreement and the terms any deal, the government is to also introduce an additional Withdrawal Agreement & Implementation Bill to implement the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement in UK law and thereby providing the normal levels of full parliamentary scrutiny for a Bill going through both Houses.

So I think we were pretty fully covered.  Now with the Amendment agreed by parliament, we have an additional hurdle, which I’m sure wasn’t anyone’s intention. Here’s to a peaceful and less divided New Year.  As 2017 ebbed away, in our end was our beginning.

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