There were two controversial votes in UK parliament and Brexit negotiations will be delayed
This week, the house of commons had two votes which were highly anticipated but, in the end, went as planned.
The first vote was the second reading of the EU withdrawal bill on Tuesday 12 September.
UK ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall said at a press meeting to Delano on 6 September that the EU withdrawal bill does three things: “repeal the European communities act, transpose EU laws into domestic law, and it provides the government with the so-called Henry VIII powers, to amend some laws through secondary legislation. There will be a lot of technical fixes. The government’s position is that it will not abuse that power and that its intention is just to ensure that all this detailed technical stuff can be done quickly so that everything is in place to ensure a smooth exit in March 2019.”
While there were Tories who were against it, in the end they fell in line. MPs voted for the bill to go through to the second reading stage by 326 to 290, after Remain-backing Tory MPs fell in line with the government and a small number of Labour MPs rebelled against orders to oppose it.
This was just a general vote on the principle of the legislation. It will then be considered in committee where the clauses will be examined and amendments considered. Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt wrote: “Tory rebels, if they are eventually to be found, will emerge only if they fail to get their amendments accepted at committee stage.”
“The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill represents an extraordinary transfer of legal powers from Parliament to the Government, with no additional oversight; we believe this is unacceptable.”
Vote on committee majorities
On Tuesday 12 September, the house of commons voted on another piece of legislation which was probably even more contested. Andrea Leadsom tabled a motion to give the government a locked-in majority on public bill committees. The bill seeks to give the government a majority in committees which have an off number of members.
“They are tasked with going through legislation line-by-line. Previously they reflected the make-up of the Commons. Now they will be seemingly unaffected by the public vote. It is an extraordinary constitutional power grab intended to wipe out the election result. As long as Tory committee members stay loyal, they can dismiss any opposition amendment.”
Despite the vast majority of opposition MPs of all parties voting against the plans and attempts to amend the motion by the Greens and Lib Dems, it was passed by 320 votes to 301.
The negotiations were scheduled to resume on Monday 18 September. The date has now been moved to Monday 25 September.
Two big speeches by May
May will speak in Florence on Friday 22 September “to update on Brexit negotiations so far”, the prime minister’s spokesman said. She will give updates on how the negotiations are progressing. Asked why the venue had been picked, May’s spokesman said the prime minister “wanted to give a speech on the UK’s future relationship with Europe in its historical heart”.
At the Tory party conference from 1-4 October, May will also speak on “building a country that works for everyone.”