As I said before the election, I respect the fact that Britain voted to leave the EU – despite having been desperately disappointed at the result of the 2016 referendum. However, I am immensely concerned about the potential for a chaotic Brexit to harm our economy and make lives harder for working people across the country.
The Bill, which has now completed all stages in the House of Commons, should be about Parliament's role in the withdrawal process and how we ensure that our legal system is maintained and that vital rights and protections are safeguarded as we leave the EU.
As it currently stands, I do not believe that this Bill is fully fit for purpose. It would still put huge and unaccountable power into the hands of Ministers, side-line Parliament and the devolved administrations, and put crucial rights and protections at risk. I have therefore supported several amendments designed to repair and remove its worst aspects.
These included amendments to restrict the use of "Henry VIII" powers, to protect workers' rights, safeguard environmental and animal welfare standards, ensure devolved governments are not side-lined, legislate for strong transitional arrangements, and to bring the Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law.
I tabled my own amendment, NC79, which was debated in the House. The New Clause sought to ensure that both women’s rights and the rights of workers and employees with caring responsibilities would be no worse after Brexit than had Britain remained a member of the EU. I also voted in favour of Chris Leslie’s NC13, which would have kept open the option for the United Kingdom to stay in the customs union.
Disappointingly, the Government rejected these amendments. However, I voted in favour of Amendment 7 which aimed to give Parliament, not the Government, a final say on the Brexit deal and I was very pleased that we managed to defeat them in this vote on December 13th and the Amendment has been added to the Bill.
The Bill will now undergo scrutiny in the House of Lords and I am hopeful that it may return to the Commons with further amendments. I can assure you that I, as pledged during the General Election, will continue to fight for a Brexit deal that protects jobs, the economy and rights for all.