THIS CONTENT WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MY OLD SITE AND FORMS PART OF THIS SITE’S ARCHIVE
Sir Oliver Letwin, MP (Conservative Party, Left) and Yvette Cooper, MP (Labour Party, Right)
On April 3rd the Letwin-Cooper bill, one I didn’t fully understand, but have come to understand better because of the debate through the House of Lords today. The Letwin-Cooper bill made it through the House of Commons, on 1 vote. On April 3rd the Letwin-Cooper bill, one I didn’t fully understand, but have come to understand better because of the debate through the House of Lords today. The Letwin-Cooper bill made it through the House of Commons, on 1 vote. The bill as it stands requires Theresa May to seek an extension with the EU to our period before leaving (also known as an Article 50 extension). The bill’s design is actually not very good, and if anything the Lord’s today has shown that. The design is actually not very good, and if anything the Lord’s today has shown that.
It looks like the House of Lord’s will be voting on Monday to attach several amendments, the concerns are the precedent that the bill would set if turned into the Law – that the Prime Minister would be duty bound to gain approval for every choice; and that the House of Commons would in-effect become a second cabinet, capable of making policy, and then effectively forcing the government to enact this.
Another amendment will probably detail how long such a measure should last – most argue for just a couple of weeks; at most, I would percieve that it would involve a trigger clause – that is that once the final withdrawal agreement is signed by the Prime Minister with the EU that the Act (which this is not yet) would become spent in law. But that will depend on how the House of Lord’s view that particular issue.
There are a few other issues. Interestingly the debate today (which was properly about procedure – the attempt to speed the bill through the House) and the debate this evening – although of different temperatures (this evening is far more Lordly, than this afternoons debate, which was at points close to venomous, and I will add that a lot of that was coming from the ERG linked Peers.
During the afternoon the ERG peers attacked Sir Oliver Letwin, MP, almost relentlessly; and yet not all Conservatives supported this ERG bunch. In fact they showed themselves to total around 50-100 in the House of Lords (at most) they probably total about 30, in actuality.
The bill was delayed for so long through filibustering – via the attempt to schedule business on an “important” report from Lord Forsyth, right in the middle of the afternoon; as well as more than 7 amendments which approached the delaying of the bill process in every slightly different ways – which prevented the block voting – the majority of the house prevented this from delaying for too long – though the delay is long enough to extend the commitee stage and the third reading, on Monday. The Chief Government Whip in the Lords advised that the House of Commons would remain open awaiting the word of the House of Lords. It is likely that if this bill, as I suspect, is sent back to the Commons, it might not pass there a third time.
And that’s probably right, however much I support the spirit of the bill, there are issues with it – ironically it would probably make the seeking of an extension to Article 50 more difficult; and therefore a default No Deal Brexit on April 12th more likely.
The bill appears to be badly written, with references to sections and acts of parliament that may not exist.
But even if the Act is passed, and it is passed in the spirit of the a bill, rather than the letter, would be acceptable to some; as long as at the earliest convenience of the Commons and the Bills writers, if there are any elements of the bill that should be made into permanent law, that they would be written in a better bill, that also repeals this one.
But in the House of Lords this evening the arguments have not been so much about the actual bill; but ERGers have argued and asserted the desirability of a no-deal brexit; whilst just about everyone else from soft-brexiters and remainers in the house have continuously argued against this.
When the House of Lords hasn’t been waxing lyrical about Brexit itself – the failure of Theresa May to agree a reasonable deal, etc. they have looked to discuss whether this bill should have entered the Lords as a private members bill, when in fact it should have been brought by the government on behalf of the lower chamber – the argument for this was that those who brought the bill did not allow time for the government to do this – which is why many Conservative peers have been whipped to vote against the motion to raise the bill and then on the bill itself; however Conservative peers are also refusing to vote on the bill; and there will be some interesting challenges over the next few days.
It seems that whilst the Labour and Liberal Democrat peers command the majority in the house, that the cross-benchers may end up being the voice of reason; and able to force through some amendments – which may mean the bill is sent back to the lower chamber to die.
And that’s essentially what this bill is likely to do – even if placed on the statute books, if Theresa May agrees her Brexit extension with the EU, then the bill becomes fairly redundant.
But frankly, even if the bill passes its 3rd reading in the Lords and is not sent back to the Commons; but onto Buckingham Palace for Royal approval – it’ll probably be too late.
And if May’s extension request is rejected on April 10th, then we leave at 11 pm on Friday 12th April 2019 without a deal, and that is the fear of many.