The Government has announced that on Tuesday 12th June the House of Commons will debate the amendments made by the House of Lords to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Yes, you read that correctly, the Government has allocated MPs just one day to debate all 15 amendments that the House of Lords made to the EU Withdrawal Bill in over 130 hours of forensic and passionate debate this spring.
Clearly Theresa May and her colleagues are afraid that the amendments enjoy wide support in the Commons, and are trying every Parliamentary trick to prevent them being included in the final act. At a time when the Government can’t even agree on its own approach to just the Customs Union, let alone Brexit as a whole, their political games don’t just insult parliamentary democracy, they put the future prosperity of the UK in peril.
Now is the time to contact your MP and ask them to vote to approve these amendments when they are debated on 12th June. Clearly just one day will not be enough time to do such a critical debate justice, so start by asking your MP to support a motion to increase the time available for the debate when it is tabled on the morning of 12th June.
All 15 amendments that the House of Lords added to the EU Withdrawal Bill are important, but four in particular are key to providing an opportunity to stop Brexit before March 2019, and to securing both the economic prosperity of the UK and peace in Northern Ireland.
- Amendment 49 “meaningful vote” gives the Commons the power to decide the next steps for the Government if the Government’s “Brexit Deal” in the autumn is not good enough. These steps might include a renegotiation of the deal, or to call for a referendum on it, but the important thing is that it gives parliament the power to prevent a damaging Brexit. It prevents the Hobson’s choice between a bad deal and crashing out of the EU with no deal.
- Amendment 95 “Date and time of exit” removes the exit date and time that the government added to the bill. Removing the exit date will make it possible for the UK to ask the EU to extend the Article 50 period beyond March 2019 to allow time for a People’s Vote – general election or referendum – to determine whether or not the UK will accept the deal or withdraw article 50 and stay in the EU.
- Amendment 1 “Customs Union” requires the Government to negotiate the UK’s participation in a customs union with the EU, which is key to safeguard the supply chains of important industries in the UK and their exports to the EU and the large and growing list of countries the EU has trade deals with, and necessary to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland preserve the Good Friday peace agreement.
- Amendment 110A “EEA membership” would force the Government to make remaining in the European Economic Area a negotiating objective. This would ensure the UK remains a member of the European Single Market – the creation of which is one of the UK’s great achievements as an EU member – so that regulation of goods and standards remains consistent between the EU and UK, and will facilitate the UK’s future participation in crucial EU bodies such as the European Medicines Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency and Euratom. It would also – along with a Customs Union, ensure a completely frictionless border in Northern Ireland.
We encourage you to draft your own letter or email to your MP, as MPs pay more attention to personal emails which include examples of how you, your family, business or employer are affected. However, to get you started we’ve got a short template letter here for you to adapt and add to.
We have the contact details of local MPs including Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge), Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire), Lucy Frazer (South East Cambridgeshire), and Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) on our website, along with tips on writing to MPs.
The votes on Tuesday 12th June will be decisive for the future of the UK. Public opinion is turning increasingly against Brexit, but we need to ensure that our MPs give the people of the UK the chance to stop Brexit. They are far more likely to do this if lots of us ask them to, so contact your MP today!