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EU Withdrawal Bill- How I Voted on the Lords’ Amendments.

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

During the general election I promised my constituents that the voice of Leeds North West, a constituency that voted decisively to remain in the EU referendum, is heard.

I promised to ensure that the UK remains within a customs union with the EU and that we do not lose any access to the European Single Market, utilising the best available method to secure that.

I have kept my promise throughout my first year in Parliament and this was underlined in the votes last night where, in some cases despite my party whip, I voted to support every Lords Amendment (with the exception of the devolved matters) to the EU Withdrawal Bill. See a detailed breakdown of the votes below.

Amendment 1 – Customs Union

Prevents the repeal of the 1972 act bringing the UK into the EU unless the government lays out plans to negotiate a continued customs union after Brexit.

I voted to support this amendment. I believe that the UK must remain within the EU Customs Union, unless a bespoke customs arrangement is agreed. This will avoid an economic cliff edge as well as ensuring stability on the Irish Border.

Amendment 3 – environmental protections

Maintains EU environmental protections in domestic law, with a body to enforce compliance.

I voted to support this amendment. I believe that we are facing a global environmental crisis that is a threat to our way of life. It is vital that in exiting the EU we do not lose measures that protect our environment.

Amendment 4 – enhanced scrutiny

Prevents EU law on areas such as work, health and safety, and environmental standards being modified by secondary legislation without the approval of parliament.

I voted to support this amendment. We have heard a lot about Parliamentary sovereignty and it is important that Brexit isn’t used as a smokescreen for the Government to remove rights and protections without the scrutiny of Parliament.

Amendment 5 – charter of fundamental rights

Transfers the EU’s charter of fundamental rights into domestic law.

I voted to support this amendment. The bill does not include any provision for workers, environmental and equality rights that weren’t in place prior to adopting the charter of fundamental rights. These are rights for which we have long fought and in voting to leave the EU people did not vote to lose them.

Amendments 10, 43 and 45 – Henry VIII powers

Limits the scope of ministers to amend retained EU law under secondary legislation, also known as Henry VIII powers, by changing the wording so it can only happen if “necessary” rather than just if a minister deems it “appropriate”.

I voted to support this amendment. I am very worried about the government seizing powers instead of giving laws back to Parliament. So much for Parliamentary sovereignty.

Amendment 19 – meaningful vote

Enhances the Grieve Amendment that went through the Commons in December guaranteeing a meaningful final vote on the Brexit deal by allowing the Commons to decide the next course of action if parliament rejects the deal.

I voted to support this amendment. I believe in the sovereignty of Parliament and therefore the right for MPs to reject the deal if the Government come back with an agreement with Brussels that is not good enough and not in the best interests of the country.

Amendment 20 – parliamentary approval for negotiations

Requires parliamentary approval for negotiations on phase two before they begin.

I voted to support this amendment. As stated above I believe in the sovereignty of Parliament and believe that the Government should not be given carte blanche on something as important as managing Brexit, without first meeting the standards set by Parliament.

Amendment 24 – child refugees

Requires ministers to seek agreement to maintain the right of unaccompanied child refugees in one EU state to join relatives in the UK after Brexit.

I voted to support this amendment. This, for me, was straight forward. We must do our humanitarian duty, particularly with regards to child refugees.

Amendment 25 – Northern Ireland

Requires no changes to Irish border arrangements without the agreement of both the UK and Irish governments.

I voted to support this amendment. I was in Northern Ireland when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. I remember how unachievable it seemed and how amazing it was that peace was finally achieved.  I cannot accept any negotiating position that plays fast and loose with peace in Northern Ireland.

Amendment 32 – continued cooperation

Formalises the idea that EU law can continue in UK law, and the UK can stay in EU agencies.

I voted to support this amendment. It would be remiss of me not to support the proposer of this amendment, Rt Revd Nick Baines, who is a constituent of mine. I agree with him completely that we must retain EU law after exit day to avoid a legislative black hole.

Amendment 37, 39 and 125 – no fixed exit date

The government had amended the bill to set 29 March 2019 as a definitive exit date. The Lords changed this to make any date subject to parliamentary approval. 

I voted to support this amendment. We must not be held to this arbitrary date, particularly in light of the Government’s lack of progress in their negotiations with Brussels.

Amendment 51 – the EEA

Obliges the Government to prioritise staying in the European Economic Area.

I voted to support this amendment. Although this was not a perfect amendment and did not reflect my full position, I believe that if we are unable to secure a bespoke deal which means we have full access to the European Single Market then we must use an existing solution like the EEA. It was a marginal decision for me but on balance I felt it was important to show that all options should remain on the table.

This is particularly important considering how little time we have to negotiate a holistic agreement which will take years to negotiate. Frictionless trade requires both a customs union and access to the European Single Market. The only divergence that I have from the Labour front bench position is that and I see the EEA as a lifeboat if only other options close. They too believe that we should have full access to the Single Market but believe that this could be achieved better outside the EEA, our only real difference here is I am concerned that there is not enough time and we need a backstop option.

Amendment 52 – ability to challenge retained EU law

Removes a section of the bill letting ministers use directives to decide who is able to challenge the validity of retained EU law post-Brexit.

Amendment 52 – ability to challenge retained EU law

Removes a section of the bill letting ministers use directives to decide who is able to challenge the validity of retained EU law post-Brexit.

I voted to support this amendment. It is important that EU law is retained properly within UK law and therefore laws should be open to challenge if they don’t meet the standards set by the EU.

Amendment 53 – compliance with EU principles

Guarantees the right of challenge to a domestic law if it fails to comply with the general principles of EU law as set out by the European court of justice.

I voted to support this amendment. As above – it is important that our retained laws meet EU standards.

Amendment 110 – the sifting committee

Obliges a committee to scrutinise all ministerial directives used to amend retained EU law.

I voted to support this amendment. This amendment is about the sovereignty of Parliament. It would be farcical to retain EU laws only to amend them without the appropriate scrutiny by MPs in the House of Commons.

Labour Front Bench amendment – access to internal market

states that a negotiating objective should be “to ensure the United Kingdom has full access to the internal market of the European Union, underpinned by shared institutions and regulations, with no new impediments to trade and common rights, standards and protections as a minimum.”

I voted to support this amendment. The Leave campaign promised that leaving the EU would not mean leaving the single market. It is important that their promises are kept and that we do not sleepwalk into a hard Brexit.

Next week new amendments will come back from the Lords. Many Conservative MPs were given reassurances on the Meaningful Vote which were reneged upon by Downing St, I hope we get another chance to get a meaningful vote as its our last chance.

I also hope that the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and Henry VIII powers as this bill is the last chance for those. We will get future chances in the Trade and Customs Bill to have amendments on customs and European Single Market and I am already looking forward those bills coming back to the Commons in the next few weeks.


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