EU Withdrawal Bill passes first major hurdle

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 12 Sep 2017

MPs have voted to continue with Britain’s process of leaving the European Union. 

The Government successfully squeezed the EU Withdrawal Bill through its Second Reading – its first major test in the House of Commons – with MPs passing it by 326 to 290.

The Bill is designed to end the “supremacy” of EU law over British law and also effectively copy-and-paste every EU law onto UK statute books before the Brexit deadline.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party had combined to oppose the legislation, calling the proposed increase of “ Henry VIII powers ” undemocratic, given it would allow ministers to change laws without Parliament’s approval.

The revolt failed, however, with the Bill passing its Second Reading with a majority of 36.

An accepted "reasonable amendment", submitted by Labour, was defeated by 318 votes against, to 296 votes for.

Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, spoke in favour of the EU Withdrawal Bill

North Lincolnshire’s Tory MPs played their part in getting the Bill over the line.

All four of the region’s Government representatives voted in support, with Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) and Victoria Atkins (Louth) both speaking in favour on Monday evening.

Sir Edward, a life-long Eurosceptic, urged ministers to be “generous” both in the Brexit negotiations and with allowing MPs to debate the process.

READ MORE: North Lincolnshire MP slams Labour's 'appalling' decision to vote against first major Brexit law

He added: “Listen to the House, accept some amendments and ensure that this process is time limited.

“The key thing for our constituents is this: that we leave the EU at the end of March 2019; that any implementation period lasts only two years; and that we then become an open, free-trading nation with the whole world, with a free trade agreement with the EU.

“Stick to the essentials, be confident, be generous with the House and we will win this battle,” the veteran politician told the Government.”

East Yorkshire’s four Tory MPs all voted to support the Government.

David Davis, the Brexit Secretary and MP for Haltemprice and Howden, said the legislation provided the “maximum possible legal certainty and continuity while restoring control to the United Kingdom”.

The legislation will be debated again by MPs when they return after the three-week break for the party conference season.

Ministers will have to offer guarantees to unhappy Tory MPs, such as influential backbencher and ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve, that the law’s noted deficiencies will be patched up in time for the next Committee Stage – or face a possible rebellion.

Grimsby MP Melanie Onn objected to the Withdrawal Bill at its Second Reading

Great Grimsby MP, Melanie Onn, joined her party in opposing the Bill, saying she feared workers’ rights and environmental protections could be “cut or watered down” by the Henry VIII powers.

In one of the final speeches of the night, Ms Onn said the Bill would "allow any government to water down basic privileges that people enjoy today".

The Shadow Housing Minister said it "was not good enough" that the "only guarantees" Parliament had been given over the extra powers was a call from the Brexit Secretary to "trust him and the Government".

She previously told the Telegraph that she would be looking to back suitable amendments, to protect workers' rights, at the next stage of the process.

Hull’s three Labour MPs voted to block the Withdrawal Bill . The trio all told the Mail they had concerns that the Bill was a front for a “power grab” by the Prime Minister.

Diana Johnson , the city’s most senior MP, said she wasn’t elected to “rubber stamp whatever Tories put before Parliament” – something she proposed could happen if the Withdrawal Bill enters the law books as currently worded.

Karl Turner , Labour MP for Hull East, said the “unprecedented power grabbing Bill” was a “blatant attempt to take law making away from Parliament”.

Newest MP, Emma Hardy, said she “respected” the Brexit referendum result but disagreed with how the Government was trying to bring it about, labelling it a “truly awful” Bill.

Ms Hardy, an aide to Labour’s Brexit chief, Kier Starmer, said: “This is a power-grab Bill for Theresa May.

“She didn’t win the election. She didn’t get that power from the British people so she’s trying to get that power by passing this Bill. It is not fair and it’s not right.

“This Bill will mean I have less power and influence against the changes she wants to introduce. It is not that we’re trying to block Brexit – I want a good Brexit that works for the people for Hull West and Hessle and protects workers’ rights.”

Ms Hardy said Labour would have come up with “a better version” of the Withdrawal Bill if Jeremy Corbyn was prime minister.

The Second Reading’s passing vote, held after two days of debate, signifies that the principle of the law has been agreed.

The Withdrawal Bill will go to an 8-day Committee Stage where MPs will be able to suggest changes next month, when they return after the upcoming 3-week break for the party conference season.

Ministers will have to offer guarantees to unhappy Tory MPs, such as influential backbencher and ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve, that the law’s noted deficiencies will be patched up in time for the next Committee Stage – or face a possible rebellion.


Eurosceptic Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, voted in favour (Image: Jon Corken)

Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes

Sir Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough (including Market Rasen)

Victoria Atkins, MP for Louth and Horncastle

Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole

David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden (and Brexit Secretary)

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness (and Government whip)

Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole

Sir Greg Knight, MP for East Yorkshire


Melanie Onn, MP for Great Grimsby

Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North

Karl Turner, MP for Hull East (and junior shadow transport minister)

Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle

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