Retained EU Law Bill arrives in Lords

Some 2,000 years ago, the Roman philosopher Cicero said, “The closer the collapse of an empire, the crazier its laws”. That is what we have here. There are families who are starving, people who are freezing in their homes and workers rightfully striking on the streets, but we are debating this dross. Just as the Public Order Bill is an attack on democracy in the streets, this Bill is an attack on democracy here within Parliament. Rather than taking back control, the Government are seeking to take away Parliament’s sovereign power of voting for or against laws and to hand that power over to a chaotic Executive of right-wing Ministers and their civil servants. We have reached the slash-and-burn stage of Brexit. The only sensible thing now is to cut our losses and rejoin the EU.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provided a comparatively sensible way for the Government to transition out of the EU with a functioning body of law, with the ability to identify opportunities outside the EU and pass new laws accordingly. This is not the same by any means. We do not have a list of laws that are going to be deleted by the Bill; it gives carte blanche to delete all, and it is going to be an absolute mess. It will be at the discretion of Ministers, who will choose to delete—or not—some parts of EU law without further scrutiny, either parliamentary scrutiny or scrutiny by the electorate.

The electorate have not voted for this Bill. It is not in the Tory party manifesto. Voters have never been asked about the approach that the Government want to take to retained EU law. It is not part of the oven-ready Brexit that we were promised, which was cooked up last year with a poison pill. It will mean that important decisions on which laws are retained will have been made by the end of this year before the general election, and then some other political party will have to pick up the mess and try to cope with the disaster.

The Bill gives the legal mechanisms but no political mechanisms. Only Ministers will choose the fate of 4,000 pieces of legislation. It seems crazy that we are handing that power to Ministers. We did not trust them before this came and we certainly will not trust them afterwards.

Our future relationship with the EU is important. There is a growing recognition that leaving the European Union has not delivered the benefits that we were promised. The Bill is proof that even this Government cannot find any benefits to boast about. There will soon be a public debate about our relationship with the European Union, and the Green Party has decided that the relationship should be as close as possible until the political circumstances are right for us to rejoin. I say that as someone who voted for Brexit. What I have seen is destruction by this Government, and they are not delivering on all their promises.

My feeling is that the only sensible thing now is to cut our losses and rejoin the EU, and I think many others, some inside this building but many outside, will agree with me.

Read the whole debate here