Over the last few days our Parliament has been grappling with some challenging issues relating to our proposed departure from the European Union, most of which appear to be caused by Parliament or the Government. We keep on hearing or reading that our departure from the EU is a decision which was made by a large number of people with clarity and that therefore it is a concrete decision which the Government at the time referred to as a once in a generation decision. However the information which was publicised by the Government and by the campaigners over four months from February 2016 to June 2016 has long since been updated or replaced with a range of contradictory issues which many of us are now very aware of. Many people who live outside of the UK but within the EU have seen a series of major changes occurring in their nations over the same period and some have revised their own views about the future so it would seem perfectly reasonable at this stage in the process for our own population to have an opportunity either to reinforce the decision we took in June 2016 or to make some alternative decisions that would all of course raise concerns for some people, but it seems inevitable that our future will need a fresh set of responses compared to where we were a few years ago.
Most of the grappling that has taken place is based on the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill which was issued to our MPs last Monday evening for its first reading and the second reading of the Bill which took place 16 hours later was the first opportunity for any of the MPs to speak about it with any understanding. That debate took just over five hours, which is about as long as the Great British Bake-Off allow for the final competition so it was a relatively long debate. However given that unlike the bake-off items that take less than an hour to be eaten by a few people, the withdrawal agreement will last decades and impact all of us, one of the positive challenges was a decision by a majority of MPs to call for more than two days to debate the third reading of the Bill. However the Government felt such a delay was unnecessary, even though many of them including the Prime Minister have made statements that displayed how uncertain they were about the content of the 110 page Bill, even though they had prepared it. Indeed one Sussex MP and Government Minister, Nusrat Ghani used twitter to claim that Labour and the Liberal Democrats had voted for “dither & delay again. 3 years on and 500 hours of debate and they still want to deny the people’s vote”. It appears as though the Wealden MP has forgotten that the first withdrawal bill which was not published until January 2019, even though it had been put to the Cabinet way back in July 2018 was replaced last week and has only had five hours of debate so far!
Sadly most Sussex MPs voted in favour of the second reading apart from the three Brighton and Hove MPs and they along with Stephen Lloyd voted for what Nusrat referred to as the dither and delay. Yet when it came to the five hour debate, only Caroline Lucas and Peter Kyle took the trouble to explain their views. Perhaps we could now call upon the 12 MPs who supported the Bill and the idea of a mere two day debate to explain why they believe this is credible? Michael Fabricant MP who was once chair of the Brighton Pavilion Conservative Association did claim that “the Mayor of the West Midlands is in very close contact with manufacturers in the area, including Jaguar Land Rover. They are saying that the most damaging thing to manufacturing and industry as a whole is the uncertainty due to delay. They want the deal done and the deal done now.” It seems strange that within 18 hours of the Bill being published that any business owners would have made such a claim. Our Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas stated “As many others have said today, democracy is a process, not a single event. Since that referendum, we have had one general election, two Prime Ministers and a wealth of further information about the costs and complexities of Brexit, and the lies and law breaking that stained that poll on 23 June 2016. The Prime Minister has changed his mind on more occasions than it is possible to count, most recently over the prospect of a border in the Irish Sea. It is wrong that the British people are apparently the only people who will not be allowed to change their minds.”