HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes
The Committee stage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which began last week, sees the House of Commons debate in detail legislation which will shape all our futures.
It’s central aim is to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 – which first gave effect to European law here.
At the point of our departure, all European law will be converted into British law, so that it can be amended, repealed, or maintained at the will of the British people through our sovereign Parliament.
Doubtless, this will be a lengthy process, but we cannot begin to be free again without this vital first step.
Over the course of the debates, much has been made of the notion of Parliament having a “meaningful vote” on the final terms of a Brexit deal.
In fact, the Government has already announced that a new Bill will be introduced to implement any such agreement in domestic law, so it goes without saying that Parliament will have its say, with Members of both Houses able to consider and vote on the terms of any settlement with Europe.
As well as which, the Government has guaranteed that we shall have the opportunity to do so before Brussels Eurocrats have their say.
But, contrary to the increasingly shrill bleats of some still unreconstructed Remainers, such a vote will not be an opportunity to stop our withdrawal from the EU, as European law itself makes unambiguously clear.
It will be a decision only on whether to accept or reject a deal. Indeed, when a Government Minister was asked in the House last Monday whether the consequence of Parliament declining the European Commission’s offer would simply see us departing without an agreement, his answer was unequivocal: “Yes.”
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, invoked in March, makes it is certain that Brexit will happen at 11pm on March 29, 2019.
Nothing in the Withdrawal Bill can alter that because the UK can neither unilaterally extend the two-year negotiating period, nor (as some wrongly claim) revoke our decision to trigger the clause in the first place.
The most meaningful vote of all took place on June 23, 2016. 17.4 million people chose to leave the European Union, of which – I am proud to say – 36,423 were here in South Holland. In 16 months’ time, our wish will come true.