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Background briefing on amendments on meaningful votes

Background 

  • Last night the Government defeated amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill which would have ensured regular parliamentary scrutiny of the Brexit process and a duty to gain the consent of Devolved Administrations.

 

  • Today is the last chance for Parliament to expand its role beyond that of spectator to the Brexit process and for it to give itself a meaningful vote at the end of the A50 negotiations.
  • In Open Britain’s view, this afternoon sees the most important vote on the Brexit legislation. The Government are currently proposing a ‘bad deal or no deal’ ultimatum which could see Britain crash out of the EU with no deal at all. This would be a disaster for our economy and our country. Parliament deserves a more meaningful say than that.
  • We are urging MPs to support the amendments NC110 or NC99 as a result. 

Principles

  • Open Britain are campaigning against the Government being given a blank cheque for a hard, destructive Brexit. We are backing any amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill which:

-        Give Parliament the power to send the Government back to the negotiating table if they do not think the final deal with the EU is good enough.

-        Ensure that the UK should only leave the EU with no deal if Parliament has expressly voted for that to happen, not just as a consequence of the Government’s failure to negotiate a good deal.

-        Allow for the UK Parliament to receive the draft deal at the same time as the European Parliament, to give sufficient time for scrutiny. 

Leading Amendments

  • Open Britain believes the two key amendments which would give Parliament a more meaningful say at the end of the negotiations are NC110 and NC99.
  • They are to be debated in the Commons this afternoon as part of a group of amendments on the ‘vote on the final terms of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.’
  • Open Britain wants the Government to either accept one of those amendments or for MPs to vote for them if the Government is unwilling to compromise. 

Suppressing Debate

  • Politicians are coming under attack for looking at how legislation could improve the role of Parliament in the Brexit process. In other words, for doing their jobs.
  • The campaign group Leave Means Leave made an aggressive statement suggesting that any MPs backing amendments ‘will be seen as a betrayal to the British people.’
  • Prominent Leave campaigners are running a campaign to #KeepNotificationSimple, where they claim that all amendments tabled to the Bill are ‘unnecessary.’
  • The Open Britain campaign wholeheartedly supports the right of MPs to scrutinise Brexit every step of the way in Parliament. Suppressing debate on this vital issue is damaging to our democracy. 
  • This is not about stopping Brexit; this is about making sure there is democratic oversight of its execution and interpretation. Leave campaigners often declare their support for Parliamentary sovereignty and revel in the turnout at the EU referendum. They now want to deny Parliament – and by extension the public – a meaningful role in this historic process. 

Letter Writing Campaign 

  • Over the weekend, our supporters have been emailing their MP to encourage them to ‘support amendments which empower our sovereign Parliament.’
  • The page on our website which allows this to be done is here.
  • Over 12,000 people have already done so over the weekend. 

The full text of the suggested email (which can be personalised by individual writers) reads: 

I do not believe that the Government has a mandate to pursue a hard and destructive Brexit and I am concerned that the current European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill gives the Government a blank cheque to pursue one. 

I support Open Britain’s campaign to give our elected representatives a meaningful say on at the end of the Article 50 negotiations. I do not think Parliament should be presented with an ultimatum between a bad deal and no deal – the hardest and most destructive Brexit of all. A recent poll suggests that a majority of people across all social groups and regions agree.

As my MP, I am asking you to support any amendments to the Bill which ensure the following: 

  • Parliament has the power to send the Government back to the negotiating table if they do not think the final deal with the EU is good enough.
  • The UK should only leave the EU with no deal if Parliament has expressly voted for that to happen – this must not be a consequence of the Government’s failure to negotiate a good deal.
  • The UK Parliament will receive the draft deal at the same time as the European Parliament, to give sufficient time for scrutiny

Please let me know if you are able to support these amendments which empower our sovereign Parliament.

Notes 

NC110

To move the following Clause—

“Future relationship with the European Union

(1) Following the exercise of the power in section 1, any new Treaty or relationship with the European Union must not be concluded unless the proposed terms have been subject to approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.

(2) In the case of any new Treaty or relationship with the European Union, the proposed terms must be approved by resolution of each House of Parliament before they are agreed with the European Commission, with a view to their approval by the European Parliament or the European Council.”

Member’s explanatory statement: This new clause seeks to ensure that Parliament must give approval to any new deal or Treaty following the negotiations in respect of the triggering of Article 50(2), and that any new Treaty or relationship must be approved by Parliament in advance of final agreement with the European Commission, European Parliament or European Council.

NC99 

  • NC99 requires Parliament to approve the terms of the agreement for withdrawing from the EU through primary legislation.
  • The UK would not be able to leave the EU without final parliamentary assent on the agreement at the end of art 50 negotiations.   

To move the following Clause—

                  “Parliamentary approval of the final terms of withdrawal from the EU

The United Kingdom shall withdraw from the EU once either -

(a)    Royal Assent is granted to an Act of Parliament that approves -

(i)              the arrangements for withdrawal, and

(ii)             the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU as agreed to between the United Kingdom and EU, or

(b)    Royal Assent is granted to an Act of Parliament that approves the United Kingdom’s withdrawal without an agreement being reached between the United Kingdom and the EU.”

Member’s explanatory statement: This new clause aims to embed parliamentary sovereignty throughout the process and requires primary legislation to give effect to any agreement on withdrawal or for withdrawal without such an agreement.




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