February 2017 – Open Britain campaign on Article 50 Bill amendments

February 2017 – Open Britain campaign on Article 50 Bill amendments

Thank you for your email regarding Open Britain’s views on amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

I must answer honestly and say that I will not be supporting any of the proposed amendments.  The Prime Minister and her team have set out a pragmatic negotation strategy, which I support, and in the referendum of 23 June voters gave their authority to the Government to carry out such negotiations – as the Government promised in its leaflets, delievered to every household prior to to the vote, they would implement the result of the referendum.  I fully expect this promise to be upheld.  Instead of seeking to support Parliamentary sovereignty, many of these amendments seek to frustrate the implementation of this result.  As Parliament’s vital sovereignty flows from the legitimacy conferred upon it by the people, I cannot support any measure which would seek to overturn the referendum result – either in Parliament or outside – at a later date.

I welcome that the Government has committed to giving Parliament a say over whether they prefer the negotiated deal, or WTO rules, at the end of the negotiation, and there will also be a vast number of debates on many aspects of the negotiations as they progress, which is right to ensure proper scrutiny.  However, were we to offer a vote at the end of negotiations with one possible result being remaining in the EU, this would give a huge incentive to those in Brussels who may harbour recalcitrant attitudes to the UK’s exit to give the UK the worst deal possible with the aim of having it rejected, and this cannot be allowed to happen.

Furthermore I reject the notion of a difference between a “hard” or “soft” exit.  Leaving the European Union necessarily entails controlling our borders, our laws, and leaving the Single Market (though it does not, in any way, proclude access to the Single Market – something a large number of non-EU nations have negotiated).  The Prime Minister and her team will seek to negotiate the right deal for Britain, which will of course mean more British control in some areas and closer cooperation with EU institutions in others.  I support this sensible, nuanced approach, and thus I will not pre-judge a negotiation which has yet to take place, nor characterise it in sensationalist (but not terribly informative) terms like “hard” or “soft.”

I hope this will clarify my position, and thank you for getting in touch.