Haven’t seen a huge amount of publicity about the amendments that Labour is targeting with regard to the government’s ‘Article 50’ bill, but they are key to understanding why Jeremy Corbyn is ‘boxing clever‘ about 3-line whips and ‘keeping his powder dry’ by not joining with the minor parties in token resistance.
Which is probably why you’re not seeing a lot of publicity about them – it would upset the media’s preferred narrative of Labour chaos to distract you from the real chaos taking place in the Tory party and Theresa May’s head.
Here they are, with modicum of commentary from Labour’s website and this writer’s comments in italics after each:
1. Vote on the final deal
Allow a meaningful vote in Parliament on the final Brexit deal
Labour’s amendment would ensure that the House of Commons has the first say on any proposed deal and that the consent of Parliament would be required before the deal is referred to the European Council and Parliament.
This is vital, as it prevents the Tories simply signing any deal they choose, whether as wish-fulfilment toward their dystopic vision for this country or out of desperation to salvage some vestige of political credibility
2. Establish key principles
Establish a number of key principles the Government must seek to negotiate during the process, including protecting workers’ rights, securing full tariff and impediment free access to the Single Market.
These are essentially Corbyn’s ‘red lines’ and he – and Labour’s woefully-administered press and social media feeds must push them as such. The Tories have no excuse for not agreeing these and Labour must hammer home that point.
3. Proper parliamentary scrutiny
Ensure there is robust and regular Parliamentary scrutiny by requiring the Secretary of State to report to the House at least every two months on the progress being made on negotiations throughout the Brexit process
Pro-Brexit Tories shouted about parliamentary and judicial sovereignty during the referendum – and have since resisted every attempt to exercise them. Corbyn’s Labour are the only ones to refpect both the referendum result and to the sovereignty Brexit was supposed to be all about.
4. Security for EU citizens
Guarantee legal rights for EU nationals living in the UK. Labour has repeatedly called for the Government to take this step, and this amendment would ensure EU citizens’ rights are not part of the Brexit negotiations.
In the first days of her leadership, Theresa May attempted to use EU nationals – otherwise known as people – as bargaining chips by making threatening noises about repatriation. This was hideous and unacceptable and Labour are absolutely right to insist on securing them against it.
5. Proper involvement of the devolved administrations
Require the Government to consult regularly with the governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland throughout Brexit negotiations. Labour’s amendment would put the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on a statutory footing and require the UK Government to consult the JMC at least every two months.
The Supreme Court might have ruled that Scotland, Ireland and Wales can’t exercise a veto over the Brexit process, but if the Tories pay more than lip service to the United Kingdom as an entity, they can’t afford to ignore the views of the people there or to exclude their devolved governments from the process.
6. Impact assessments
Require the Government to publish impact assessments conducted since the referendum of any new proposed trading relationship with the EU. This amendment seeks to ensure there is much greater clarity on the likely impact of the Government’s decision to exit the Single Market and seek new relationship with the Customs Union.
The Tories have a track record of either refusing to conduct impact assessments on the changes they steamroll through Parliament (as with cuts to disability support and the impact on women of overall benefit cuts), or hiding the results (as with the NHS Act), with disastrous results. They cannot be allowed to do the same on a change that will affect people now and our descendants for generations.
7. No tax-dodgers’ charter
Ensure the Government must seek to retain all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion measures post-Brexit
The UK fails to collect huge amounts of tax as it is, with estimates ranging from £34 billion a year to around £130 billion – more than enough to fund the NHS properly many times over, while restoring benefits. Anti-evasion/avoidance measures must be strengthened, never weakened.
If people can grasp how essential it is – for all of us – to impose these amendments on the Tories’ bill, they will start to understand how intelligently Jeremy Corbyn is playing his Brexit hand.
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