On Monday afternoon MPs will debate the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill again. The Government’s aim is to strip away the EU residents’ and parliamentary approval amendments, then return the Bill to the Lords and press there for it to be passed in its original form, unamended. The Prime Minister hopes to give the Article 50 notification soon afterwards, as soon as Tuesday, according to some reports.
We promised to take urgent action to remind MPs of their constitutional and moral responsibilities ahead of the next Commons debate, so that they can decide which way to vote on an informed basis.
We are taking that action.
First, our legal team prepared a fresh briefing, Seven reasons to stand up for Parliament’s sovereignty. It explains that Parliament is being asked to write a ‘blank cheque’, giving ministers power to withdraw the country from the EU, two years from now, on whatever terms ministers agree, or indeed without any agreement at all and that allowing the Government to proceed in this way would be the most serious abdication of parliamentary sovereignty in living memory. The manner and terms on which we withdraw from the EU will have implications for the rights and interests of every citizen and business, for years to come. Parliament must take responsibility for those decisions. The parliamentary approval amendment asserts parliamentary sovereignty and puts it in its proper place – in black and white on the face of the Bill.
Secondly, 650 briefing packs were prepared for containing an introductory cover sheet, the new briefing, the Three Knights Opinion and a professionally printed version of our plain English ‘Gold Card’ booklet about the citizenship rights at stake in the Brexit negotiations. Every single one of the country’s MPs has been sent one.
Thirdly, over the weekend, the team will send the briefing in electronic form and links to the other materials to all MPs and parliamentary assistants. They will also make contact with key MPs to emphasise its importance and answer questions.
The value our work is adding to the debate over Parliament’s role becoming very clear. The Three Knights Opinion was referred to repeatedly in the Lords debates, and many peers draw on our Lords briefing in their speeches on the parliamentary approval amendment. Labour has said it will fight to keep the amendment in place. And yesterday the House of Commons Library, which produces authoritative, non-partisan briefing papers for MPs, published a special 49 page paper discussing the Three Knights Opinion to inform Monday’s debate.
Our action is effective because of your support. Please do continue to back us at this critical time.
You can take action yourself today, first by making contact with your MP, ideally at a local constituency surgery this weekend, or by e mail, or via their parliamentary assistant by phone on Monday morning (020 7219 3000 and ask to be put through to their office giving your MP’s name). Urge them to read the briefing pack, especially the Seven reasons to stand up for Parliament’s sovereignty briefing. If you can meet with them, download it and take a copy along. Tell them why this issue is so important to you. Some key points are set in the last update.
Secondly, please consider making a further small donation towards our fundraising stretch target via CrowdJustice. This last, big push is time consuming and costly. But whatever happens on Monday, we believe we should do everything in our power to improve the Bill now, at this decisive moment.
Please back the The Second People’s Challenge: helping Parliament take control and help our parliamentarians ensure that Parliament has meaningful control over the Brexit process.