It is of course very easy to use words like Sovereignty in the context of our departure from the EU. Sadly far too many people who were campaigning for us to leave made appalling claims about a lack of Sovereignty that they argued existed. Their claims varied from the EU Commission (which our Government Executive appointed along with the other 27 National Executive Leaders) and the Commission decisions that were proposed initially by the 28 Executive Leaders (Prime Minister in our case) and that were worked on by the MEP Committees and then once the deals were proposed by the Commission under approval from the 28 Executive Leaders that they were then approved by the EU Parliament through all the MEPs. The reality was that this decision would get approved of again by our own Parliament. So we are now at the stage where the post Brexit Government has removed the British Parliamentary Committee that Paul Lewis and Caroline Lucas point out in this tweet that Caroline published on 9th January. However the other element that could have been seen by many of us regarding the sovereignty of Parliament was that when the Government is seeking to make a trade deal, that the overall terms and conditions for the deal should be approved of by Parliament that would have had a chance to change them. However the Government is not willing to be held to account in that way. Their view is that the only group of people that need to participate is the Executive and then at the end of the process, Parliament can then vote to approve of (or reject the Deal). Of course the challenge then is that there will have been some positives as well as any negatives and so asking a Parliament to reject a Deal that has already been agreed by the Government is much more challenging. Anyway that is my understanding and why I was opposed to the outcome from last nights debate. Along with the discussion came the voting. The opposition to the amendments was passed by 352 votes of which 8 were DUPs and 343 were formal Conservatives and 1 was Julian Lewis who is still listed as an Independent. Of these 343 Conservatives all of the Sussex Conservatives voted apart from Peter Bottomley and Henry Smith. If they were not voting because they were abstaining they deserve an applause. If however they were not voting to cancel someone else who like them did not attend but was opposed to the vote then that is worth nothing. There were 277 people who voted against the loss of Parliamentary sovereignty and it was a genuinely broad group of MPs representing every party apart from DUP. There were 11 Conservatives and literally every other party including Labour and Green which included our 3 MPs in Sussex and Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru and SNP and SDLP so not only were all parties represented but also all of the nations in the UK.
So some of the statements included from Greg Hands, the Minister for International Trade and Jonathan Djanogly who is one of the Conservatives opposed to this.
GH: With our new-found freedom, it is right that Parliament should be able to scrutinise effectively the UK Government’s ambitious free trade agreement programme. However, Lords amendment 1 goes far beyond what would be appropriate for our unique constitutional make-up and would unduly tie the hands of Government to negotiate in the best interests of the UK.
JD: My right hon. Friend said that the amendment would go too far. In the European Parliament the power existed for MEPs to give consent to trade Bills. Now that power has come back to this country, is he suggesting that this should not go to MPs but should go to the Executive? I think that is what he is suggesting.
GH: First, it would be inappropriate to compare this Westminster-style of democracy with the European Parliament and the European Commission. Secondly, all the trade agreements in scope within the continuity provisions of the Bill have already been scrutinised in this House.
After these responses Greg Hands refuses to let Jonathan in to speak again. However the next set of debates involve another amendment that has also been rejected from Iain Duncan Smith who is concerned that the deals with China will be very damaging. Then later on in the discussion Jonathan gets a chance to speak again.
JD: Is not the situation at the moment that, effectively, the amount of scrutiny provided is at the whim of the Executive? If they want to give us hundreds of pages of Bill the day before we have to sign, they can do that. If they want to give another country a month for scrutiny, as with Japan, but us no time at all, they can do that. We need a system here.
There is no direct response to that and the debate carries on for a great deal more words. However the final outcome is clear and our Government is not willing to be held accountable to our Parliament and sadly a large number of our Parliamentary MPs are happy for that to happen because they are DUP or Conservative MPs. Let us hope in the future that another Government will reverse this as well as considering reversing the EU departure based on a widespread view and impact of our departure so far.