The government’s decision to include so called ‘Henry VIII’ powers in the Bill that would bring current European Union laws into British law before Brexit, meant that it had to be opposed.
In 1539 Henry VIII introduced the Statute of Proclamations which gave him the power to dodge parliamentary scrutiny and pass laws by himself. Unless the EU Withdrawal Bill is significantly amended, similar powers will fall to the Tory Cabinet.
That is why I voted against the Tory power grab in the EU Withdrawal Bill and that is why I will be backing amendments in the coming weeks and months that seek to prevent Brexit becoming an excuse for Tories to undermine the Westminster Parliament still further.
However people voted in the EU referendum, either for or against Brexit, it is clear that no-one voted to give the Tories the right to sign away the powers of Parliament to make laws and scrutinise the actions of the government of the day.
I support devolution, with power resting as close as possible to the people affected by decisions. That is why I backed the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly and an elected Liverpool City Region Mayor. I don’t support the actions of this Tory government in undermining Parliament and devolution through this tawdry power grab.
Labour has now tabled amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill that seek to address the worst aspects of this deeply flawed Bill, including protecting vital workers’ rights, environment standards, human rights and equalities laws, significantly limiting the use of delegated powers and returning devolved powers to the governments in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.
Labour’s proposals for a transitional deal, which Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer outlined over the summer, stand in stark contrast to the Tory belligerence and confusion. Labour’s transitional deal prioritises jobs and the economy over narrow ideological obsessions designed to satisfy hard-line Tory backbenchers.
Parliament, and not Tory Ministers, must have control of the terms and timing of any transitional arrangements.