What’s the fuss about Amendment 7?

Amendment 7 is a proposed change to the wording of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, tabled by Dominic Grieve MP.

It proposes to insert the words  “subject to the prior enactment of a statute by Parliament approving the final terms of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union” to Clause 9 (page 6, line 45) of the EU (Withdawal) Bill.

According to the member’s explanatory statement, the intention of this amendment is “to require the final deal with the EU to be approved by statute passed by Parliament”. – in other words, parliament must have the final say.

This is a very important amendment, because it addresses an important question – who takes control?

It is time we talked about “Sovereignty”

Britain is not a direct democracy, where the people directly decide matters of politics. In the British system of representative democracy, people vote for their MP to act as their representative in parliament.

Neither is Britain a dictatorship, in which the leader or the ruling party in government can just do as they please.

In Britain, parliament is sovereign, which means that the government does not have the authority to change the laws of the land unless  it has the approval of a majority in parliament.

The sovereignty of parliament means that it, and only it,  not the government, nor the people, has the authority to decide important national matters, such as changing the law.  Importantly, this includes the European Union Membership referendum from 23 June 2016.

On 3 June 2105, MPs were provided with parliamentary briefing paper 07212  that defined the referendum as “pre-legislative or consultative“,  clearly stating that “the UK does not have constitutional requirements for the results of a referendum to be implemented“.

Moreover, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2106 with which parliament allowed the government to notify the EU of its intention to leave didn’t constitute a ratification of the referendum. It’s wording clearly indicates that it is nothing more than a permission slip.

To date, parliament has not been offered a vote on Britain’s membership of the EU as its constitutional sovereignty in the UK ought to demand. Parliament has also not been consulted on what future arrangements the government has in mind. The notion that the UK could end up with a no deal scenario without parliament being consulted is becoming a reality.

Conclusion

Amendment 7 is nothing more than an affirmation of what is right under British law. The government does not have the authority to continue wit its pursuit of withdrawal from the EU, and setting a new deal without consulting parliament.

The amendment simply calls for the government to recognise the sovereignty of parliament – and affirm parliament’s right to have the final say.

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