The announcement that the meaningful vote on the UK Government’s Withdrawal Agreement has now been abandoned demonstrates an utter weakness and incompetency. Knowing full well that the vote would be lost the UK Government has denied Parliament its agreed right to vote.
We are now only told that it has been deferred. When pressed we are not given a new date and according the the House of Commons Clerks this could be as late as the 28 March 2019 – the day before we are set to leave the EU.
I got a chance to point out to the Prime Minister that we are in this sorry situation because of her own red lines on the European Court of Justice and a Customs Union. All of these red lines have made it impossible to get an agreement that protects the security of Northern Ireland, the links between the nations in our union and future prosperity. This Government’s determination to ride roughshod over Parliament is deeply concerning.
Following the recent summit in Brussels over Brexit the Prime Minister returned to the House of Commons to deliver a statement on the stalled negotiations.
I pressed the Prime Minister yet again on the progress of securing the European Arrest Warrant. In particular, I raised my concern the if we lose access to this vital tool to tackle crime it would undermine our ability to extradite people back to the UK to hold them accountable for their crimes during the Troubles.
Sadly, I received no solid reply that progress has been made. All too often people focus on the ‘big ticket items’ surrounding Brexit but failed to notice that it also includes cooperation with our neighbours to tackle crime and bring those who wish to harm our communities to justice.
There have been two resignations from senior members of the Government’s cabinet today. The Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU have both departed because they stated they had no confidence in the proposals put before them. The Government is in a mess, the Prime Ministers authority lays in tatters and we are still none the wiser on what our future relationship with the EU will be once we leave. Remember a deal must be struck by October 2018 and voted upon by Parliament to ensure that we do not fall off a cliff edge in March 2019.
Many people pressed the Prime Minister on the political situation she finds herself in. I wanted to drill down into further detail on our future security relationship with the EU. It is shocking to see that the former Home Secretary is willing to throw the European Arrest Warrant overboard and put our safety at risk. I asked her what the Government is doing to support our police officers in catching criminals and bringing them to justice.
Once again I sought clarification on how the UK Government will know what is being transported between the different parts of the UK and countries outside of our borders when we leave the Customs Union and Single Market.
The Prime Minister gave a short and unhelpful answer just asserting that you don’t need a Customs Union or Single Market. But this fails to take into account British businesses need to know if items coming into the UK meet our standards or how products leaving the UK to our EU neighbours meet their standards once we leave. Once again we have muddled thinking from the UK Government.