Last night 243 Labour MPs voted against the Tory government’s Brexit bill.
The Tories tried to make as much capital out of this vote as possible by whipping up their Brextremist followers into a rage with outright lies that Labour were “blocking the delivery of a smooth Brexit”, which are a tad difficult to accept at face value given that the Tories and their bigoted DUP backers actually won the vote!
In reality the Labour Party (and other opposition parties) tried to do everything in their power to amend the Tories’ basket case European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, and when virtually all of these amendments were defeated by the Tories and the DUP extremists they bribed into supporting them, Labour had no choice but to vote against this cynical and shambolic power grab the Tories have cobbled together under the guise of leaving the EU.
It’s vital to understand that Labour and the opposition parties tried really hard to improve the EU Withdrawal bill, but the Tories and the DUP fanatics simply scrapped all the changes.
Here are just a few of the amendments that the Tories refused to make to their shambolic legislation:
- Labour tried to ensure that no EU derived consumer protections, environmental standards, and workers’ rights are scrapped during the process of quitting the EU. The Tories scrapped that amendment.
- The Green Party tried to ensure that EU derived animal rights are not scrapped during the process of quitting the EU. The Tories scrapped that amendment.
- The SNP and other opposition parties tried to ensure that the Tories couldn’t use the extensive law-rewriting powers they were giving themselves to revoke powers from the devolved parliaments (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland). The Tories scrapped that amendment.
- Labour tried to stop the Tories from using the EU Withdrawal Bill to reserve all repatriated powers directly to Westminster, rather than to the devolved parliaments. The Tories scrapped that amendment.
- Labour tried to ensure that the Tory government carry out economic impact assessments on whatever Brexit scenario they decide on (a Brexit agreement or a “no deal” flounce) before parliament votes on whether to go ahead with it. The Tories scrapped that amendment.
If they have no intention of using Brexit as a Trojan horse to attack all of these rights, protections, and laws – then why did they scrap the amendments that would have prevented them from doing so?
If they have no intention of using Brexit as an excuse to attack and undermine the powers of the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – then why did they scrap the amendments that would have prevented them from doing so?
And if they have no intention of ploughing ahead with a shambolic “let’s make it up as we go along” hard-right Brexit – then why did they scrap the amendments that would have made them at least conduct economic impact assessments on the final Brexit situation they decide on before moving to enact it?
Labour and the other opposition parties tried to co-operate and improve the Tory Brexit legislation, but the Tories and the DUP lackeys they bribed into supporting them just trashed all the amendments.
This Tory intransigence left Labour with no choice but to vote against the shambolic legislative mess the Tories have put forward.
When historians look back at this time, nobody will blame Labour for at least trying to amend the Tory Brexit legislation to make it fit for purpose.
However now that the Tories have demonstrated their intention to use Brexit as an excuse to attack our rights, scrap our consumer protections, erode our environmental laws, undermine our devolved parliaments, and do so in a reckless make it up as we go along manner with no economic impact assessments to justify their actions, nobody (aside from the ‘we want Brexit at any cost’ extremists) could possibly argue that Labour were wrong to vote against the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The Labour Brexit minister explaining why the Tory EU Withdrawal bill is such a shambles Labour had to vote against it.
— Tom (AAV) (@Angry_Voice) January 18, 2018
The next stage for the EU Withdrawal Bill will be the unelected House of Lords, which will make an interesting spectacle as a bunch of unelected peers attempt to amend this absolute shambles of a Tory power grab to make the bill itself more democratic, and the Tory govenrment more accountable for their actions.