Tories accused of hypocrisy over Withdrawal Agreement ‘power grab’

Conservative MPs have been demanding Remainers 'accept democracy'....while government changes to the Brexit bill undermine Parliamentary scrutiny.

One Tory MP after another lined up to demand that Remainers ‘accept democracy’ today, and stop campaigning for a close relationship with the European Union.

Conservative Damian Green told the Commons: “Those of us who campaigned for Remain should respect the result….Sadly many people didn’t take that decision and have spent the last 3.5 years trying to subvert that decision.”

Another Tory MP, William Cash, said the European Union is ‘utterly undemocratic’ and praised the fact that decisions would now all be taken in Westminster – rather than ‘behind closed doors…without even a transcript. Fortunately the people of this country will be able to hear and see what happens in this chamber today.”

So what did we learn about the amended Withdrawal Agreement Bill, reintroduced in the Queen’s Speech on Thursday?

This: “Ministers will no longer be bound by the legislation to provide updates on the future trading relationship [to Parliament] or to make sure Parliament approves the government’s negotiating objectives.”

In other words – the sovereignty of Parliament is being undermined, not strengthened, as the PM tries to leave the EU.

The new Tory majority means the government have also weakened protections on workers’ rights.

Caroline Lucas responded to the attacks on her and fellow People’s Vote campaigners: “Those of us who wanted to go back to the people were not undermining democracy – more democracy does not undermine democracy.” She challenged Damian Green as to why – if the Bill is about enabling democracy – Johnson’s amendments are determined to undermine Parliamentary scrutiny.

Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse also rejected the accusation Remainers were ‘undemocratic’: “In a democracy a ruling party needs a functioning opposition. Without opposition democracy is dead. My passionate belief that the UK is better in the EU will not end. Anyone who tries to deny me or anyone else my right to say that is anti-democratic [themselves].”

And Caroline Lucas pointed out that – far from being a bastion of democracy – the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill is ‘an executive power grab’.

One academic wrote this week about the new Parliament: “We will have an emboldened government that is likely to want to see through an historic policy agenda with wide-ranging repercussions, and it can do so with a comfortable majority in the House of Commons, possibly without high levels of scrutiny. Meanwhile, there are hints that political, administrative and constitutional reforms are also on the table. To adapt an iconic line from Ghost (1990): Parliament, you in danger, girl.”

It’s almost like the main priority for the Tories isn’t boosting democracy, but undermining the rights and standards we currently enjoy through the EU…

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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5 Responses to “Tories accused of hypocrisy over Withdrawal Agreement ‘power grab’”

  1. Alice Aforethought

    Well, you see, how this works is that when you don’t have a majority, you make compromises in order to get your legislation passed.

    When you’ve got a majority you do what you want and you don’t have to listen to anyone else.

    The solution is to win your own majority.

    What suggestions do the various worthies quoted above have in that direction? We heard from Caroline Lucas (Green, one MP), Wera Hobhouse (LD, eleven MPs), and Marc Geddes (some sort of academic). What are you lot going to do to establish a coalition of the left with > 326 MPs?

  2. Michaela

    Winning an election is now a power grab. How I miss the debates we used have with year 7 on weasel words and hooray words. How do we get such a shower in our parliament?
    When J P Sartre had Hell as other people with No Exit he must have had Westminster (both houses) circa 2019 in mind.

  3. Old Lefty

    Perhaps the big Tory majority could usefully rid Labour of “parliamentary cretinism”.
    It is obviously a complete waste of breath trying to debate issues when the Tory majority can just ignore other policies. So why not just have one or two speakers who point out the many flaws in Johnson’s decisions. But don’t expect the rest of the MPs to bother turning up. It’s not a schoolboy debating club with the possibility of winning over other speakers with an eloquent delivery. The voters aren’t watching, and , if they did, they would despair at seeing all the sound and fury echoing round the Chamber to no effect at all. It actually discredits the MPs by making them appear completely deluded that their words have any effect.

    The MPs should be back in their constituencies campaigning about the Tories’ obvious blunders and betrayals. Spouting about them in Parliament is a complete farce.Nobody is listening!

    Best to save breath and energy for talking to the voters. They won’t hear about any good points being made in Parliament anyway. The mass media will make sure of that.

  4. Michaela

    Old lefty – not sure focussing on Tory errors has much point. As you say, they are unassailable for 5 years and could be in for 15 given the scale of Labour’s defeat and the upcoming boundary changes which are said to remove a bias in favour of labour in seat sizes.
    A period of silence might be better while Labour figure out what they stand for – stand for not against – in the current changing world.

  5. Dodgy Geezer

    “……the main priority for the Tories isn’t boosting democracy, but undermining the rights and standards we currently enjoy through the EU…”

    What would those be? The right to be ruled by Brussels?

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