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Last Night I Voted To Implement The Referendum Result - Building A Successful Brexit Starts Now

12/09/2017 15:06
Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

I voted in the early hours of this morning for a Bill that we had before us which was to implement the result of the EU referendum. I did so because the majority of my constituents voted in the referendum to leave the EU. I did so also because a majority of the country voted to leave the EU.

There is a real issue in the Bill of a possible power grab by the Government. All of our natural sentiments are right in being suspicious as to what the Government is up to. But this was not a good enough reason to be voting against the whole Bill.

The House of Commons will come back to discussing the Government's Bill in detail. It is at this stage that the power grab, through the so-called Henry VIII clauses, should be struck out or modified.

MPs should consider carefully at this stage how decades of EU membership has led to a volume of legislation and regulation which, if we were to go through each one line by line, would fill the House of Commons chamber to overflowing.

So my preference at this stage will be for a modification of those clauses in the Bill. How might this take effect?

When the House gets down to the detailed work on the Bill, called the committee stage, it will need to agree some new method to deal with all of this EU legislation as it is incorporated into British law.

It is at this stage that I will be tabling a series of amendments, grouped together, to give us a new short Brexit bill. Clause 1 will affirm the date on which we leave the EU. Clause 2 will incorporate all European law at that stage into British law; Clause 3 will then task Parliament with reviewing this great bulk of legislation to see which parts we wish to maintain and which others we wish to boot out of British law; and Clause 4 will commit the Government to seeking to secure a safe harbour from which it negotiates our future trading relationship with the EU.

The Government's Bill, in its current form, is huge. This therefore gives a massive opportunity to those wolves in sheep's clothing who say they accept the referendum result, but whose actions suggest otherwise.

The bill that I propose will allow the Government to get on with the business of negotiating properly and have time to consider when Parliament needs to bring forward, if at all, other legislative measures to secure a smooth Brexit.

The seeking of a safe harbour, which I include as Clause 4, would then give us the opportunity to have a full debate on our future trading relationship with the EU, and meet the concerns of those who are reluctant about Brexit. Should or should we not remain in the single market and the customs union and if so for how long? If not that option, what other options remain open to us?

The hard work for Parliament of building a successful Brexit will soon begin in earnest. But the vote in the early hours of this morning was to implement the referendum result.

Frank Field is the Labour MP for Birkenhead

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