Events, Dear Boy, Events (1)
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- Events, Dear Boy, Events (2)
- Events, Dear Boy, Events (1)
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I have been thinking about three recent events. The first was the craven way the House of Lords caved in on the two sensible and non-fatal amendments to the EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill. The first amendment was to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. The second was to make sure that any final deal was put properly to the UK Parliament (as it will be to every Parliament in the other 27 EU countries, plus the European Parliament and some others).
Article 50 Delay Claims by Government proven to be False
Both amendments were passed in the Lords by majorities of about a hundred with record numbers of peers voting. The Government showed its contempt by whipping the Commons to send them straight back. At which point the Lords caved in, most obviously in the face of the bogus Government claim that any further hold-up would delay sending off the Article 50 letter. (It was claimed this was to go within a couple of days).
This turned out to be another Tory lie and as I write a fortnight later it has just been sent today (29th March). It is now obvious that two or three more days of parliamentary ping-pong (sending the Bill back and forth between the Lords and Commons in an insistent search for compromise) would have delayed nothing.
Crossbenches Capitulation on EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill Amendments was Spineless
Of course the Crossbenches are notoriously spineless when it comes to this kind of thing. They will from time to time allow themselves to “express an opinion” in their usual aura of worthy expertise, but most of them will then at the second attempt sigh portentously and prostrate themselves on the alter of the “supremacy of the Elected House” (which is actually the whipped authority of the Executive).
Labour Party Disgrace on EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill Amendments
But we don’t expect they would do much else. The Labour party is a different matter. Their capitulation was a disgrace which, it seems, was mainly due to the inability of their Commons leadership to work out a coherent strategy or mount any united challenge to the Government or face down the flawed idea that “the people have decided”. In the Lords their leaders seemed as keen to attack the Liberals as to maintain any serious opposition to the Government. Some 30 of their more freethinking backbenchers joined us in the lobbies and good for them. Most of them abstained.
But ping-pong this was not. In the days of the Labour Government, before the Coalition, ping-ping would often contain two, three or even more goes. (Back in the day I was personally involved in organising a couple of five or six rallies, in co-operation with the then Conservative opposition). The idea that the Lords should give up after just one effort is a legacy of the Coalition years when the pivotal position in the House, formerly occupied by resolute Liberals, was held by weak-willed Crossbenchers.
Parliament having no say on Brexit Deal was Shocking Decision
The win-lose amendment that made many people angry was about the rights of EU citizens, and rightly so since that issue directly affects the lives of people caught up in the cynical machinations of Tory politicians. But the really shocking vote was to refuse to insist that Parliament takes the final decision on any Brexit deal. In one abject surrender Parliament was repudiating centuries of battle against the executive. No wonder the former Advocate General and Deputy Chief Minister Jim Wallace heckled this shocking decision (and sitting next to him I was more than happy to join in!)
Now we find that the Labour Party (a bit late in the day) is promising at last to take up the battle over Brexit within Parliament rather than sneaking off to address small gatherings of Momentum-ites in Trafalgar Square. We will see. Does anyone believe that in two years’ time, or whenever the time comes, they will not once again sit on their bottoms in their seats instead of marching down the lobbies with us?
Contact Lord Tony Greaves
If you have any concerns or questions regarding Article 50, Brexit, EU Notification Bill or any other issue, then please get in touch today using the contact form provided and Lord Greaves will contact you directly, as soon as possible.