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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Brexit moves to Parliamentary stage, as Labour continue to squabble amongst themselves

Yesterdays' Supreme Court judgement confirmed what every right-thinking person had known for some time, the referendum was advisory and it is up to Parliament, not Ministers to decide how best to interpret it.

As a result we are now expecting a White Paper and a Bill to be presented to MPs, followed by a proper scrutiny process and votes on amendments. But how will the main UK parties approach that task?

Tim Farron and the Liberal Democrats are very clear. As the Guardian reports he will seek to move amendments that force a referendum on the final terms of any deal and will use his party's relative strength in the Lords to try to achieve this. The Liberal Democrats will vote against any bill that does not contain this provision:

“We take the view that the vote in June was a vote for departure from the European Union. It was not a vote for destination,” he said. “There should not be a stitch-up between Whitehall and Brussels over the content of our new relationship with Europe. The British people should have this final say.”

He continued: “We accept that the government has got a mandate to go and negotiate Brexit,” Farron argued. “We’re not trying to derail last June’s referendum. What we are saying is that the government does not have a mandate, on a very narrow majority, to go and negotiate any result, any outcome that it wants.”

“That is a recipe for dissent, for a complete breakdown in trust in our politics. For the next couple of generations, let’s say, Britain’s relationship with the outside world will be cast because of stitch-ups in the 21st-century equivalent of smoke-filled rooms.”

“If 80% of the British people, say, had voted leave, you could just about justify the government heading for a hard Brexit. But it was such a narrow vote, and to take the most extreme view possible on our new relationship with our European neighbours seems anti-democratic, non-consensual … and not about trying to unite the country.”

By way of contrast, Labour continue to run around like headless chickens. It appears that they will allow the Bill to pass unamended if attempts to change it fail. But a significant number of their MPs are opposed to this position.

The Guardian says that about 60 Labour MPs are preparing to defy any party order to vote in favour of triggering article 50, with frontbenchers expected to resign if a three-line whip is enforced.

It is becoming much clearer as to who the real opposition is on this issue.
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