Brexit: How Parliament abdicated its role to scrutinise the biggest change in UK life for 50 years

Parliament: Abdicating scrutiny

The most potent slogan of the Vote Leave campaign was the promise that Brexit meant that the country could ” take back control” and Parliament would be sovereign and we will be governed by our own laws.

Today Parliament abdicated its role to take back control of scrutinising the Brexit deal by kowtowing to a manipulative government which left little time to examine the Treaty before it had to come into effect.

Boris Johnson opening the debate with Rishi Sunak looking on Pic Credit: @UK Parliament _jessica Taylor

A huge bill which will change Britain’s relationship with our nearest neighbours, end the freedom of British people to work and study in Europe, and introduce a raft of bureaucratic red tape to do business with Europe while avoiding tariffs and quotas, will be debated in just half a day. The bill will have no clause by clause examination because there will be no time in the Commons to do this. It will be just rubber stamped. And MPs will have just four minutes – later reduced to three – each to comment.

Keir Starmer backing the “thin deal rather than no deal” with Opposition chief whip Nick Brown

Similarly the House of Lords will not have time to scrutinise the bill either and though 145 peers have said they want to comment the new bill – they have precisely three minutes each to do so. The House of Lords Constitution Committee will scrutinise the detail of the bill after it has become law – even though the government does not want this to happen. The government in its explanatory memorandum says the bill is not suitable for pre legislation scrutiny. But Baroness Taylor, who chairs the Lords Constitution Committee, points out that the means the government uses to implement the treaty are subject to scrutiny – and she indicated that many of the Commission powers had been transferred to ministers not Parliament.

Ian Blackford, Scottish National Party leader, who opposed the deal and whose party voted against of it.

By midnight tonight the Royal Assent will be given. As the Hansard Society says: “Parliament’s role around the end of the Brexit transition and conclusion of the EU future relationship treaty is a constitutional failure to properly scrutinise the executive and the law.”

It rightly says the proceedings amount to a farce. Compare it with the European Parliament – which Brexiteers say amount to bureaucratic dictators. They declined to rush through a debate approving the deal until they could properly consider it. Instead they rely on a temporary agreement to allow trade to continue and will set aside much more time to debate it than the UK Parliament. They have two months to do this.

The reason why this is important is if there are defects in the legislation that will show up later and end up discrediting the issue even for Brexiteers. Much better to get the legislation right – and Parliamentary scrutiny is the best way to do this. Particularly as the deal runs to 1200 pages and you have to check the bill with the Treaty and refer to other legislation. We have now thrown away that chance.

In a way this is a microcosm of the way Boris Johnson and his Cabinet colleagues want to govern this country. They do not want scrutiny and want “to take back control” for themselves and not for Parliament or the people. They want to use Parliament and the people for their own agenda. Today was a bad day for Parliament and democracy.

8 thoughts on “Brexit: How Parliament abdicated its role to scrutinise the biggest change in UK life for 50 years

  1. The whole thing has been a farce from start to finish.
    All those that voted leave should be disappointed with this deal, however they were never going to get what was promised. This deal is even worse than T May’s and we as a nation are going to be worse off for years to come.
    I firmly believe we’ll be begging to rejoin in a few years.
    Such a waste of time and money.


  2. Yes, David, I have considered that this must be the greatest con-trick played upon the British people, this deal was agreed months back. Its all a bit fishy to me, The fight over fisheries just a flag waving exercise to slow the clock down,
    This is the last train either you get on it even though its not going where you want otherwise await Armageddon. I thought can this be made into a musical, with a slight tweaking but copyright remains Mr Lloyd Weber’s

    Oh what a circus, oh what a show
    Oh what a Brexit, that’s how to go
    When they’re bringing your curtain down
    It’s quite a sunset
    And bad for the country in a roundabout way
    We’ve made the front page of all the world’s papers today
    Why all this howling, hysterical sorrow?
    The best show in town was the Brexit crowd
    Promising the people all sorts of things
    Now we will see they, they did nothing for years
    Show business kept them alive
    Since 1975
    But their star will soon fade
    ,their glamour will wear thin
    That’s a pretty bad state for a state to be in


  3. Well it was this deal or no deal and a deal is in both our interests. Whether its for better or worse remains to be seen… the EU was always going to dig its heels in so compromises were always going to have to be made. It’s life like I said for better or worse. Don’t think it can get much worse than it is right now. but time will tell. It always does…


  4. I am glad that the UK is going to be able to get on with the business of doing business with countries outside the EU., rather than be mired in further debates committees relating to this & that… Hopefully, people on Lord Frost’s team, have ensured that things have been carefully worded, in order to avoid any misinterpretation or devious manipulation, in future. If and when problems arise then they will have to be debated, but for now, let’s be thankful that an absolute ‘ no deal’ has been avoided & don’t let’s ‘look a gift horse in the mouth’, otherwise Parliament could easily talk itself into another stalemate , because a lot of unimaginative ‘jobs-worth’s’…


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