My speech during the Second Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, 22 October 2019

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): This Parliament is letting the public down. Three years and four months ago, I and 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union. We voted to take back control of our laws, our ​borders and our money, and we are still waiting for that to happen. We were told by the then Prime Minister that he would send a letter announcing our decision immediately after the result, and under the treaty we expected to be out after two years with or without agreement by the European Union.

Instead, we find ourselves today having yet another debate after so many groundhog days in this place, with the same people rehearsing the same arguments, as around half the Members of the House of Commons—we will find out whether it is more than half—are still trying to stop any kind of Brexit, and are forcing those of us who believe in Brexit to dilute what we are trying to do and delaying our enjoying the fruits of our Brexit vision.

Let us look at the agreement, because it is far from ideal from the point of view of a leave voter. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has today reassured us that we will completely take back control of our fish, and that we will decide how that amazing resource is nurtured, looked after and used by our country. That is very welcome. I also accept that the documents show that we will not have to go into battle with our troops on a vote that we have lost, and that we are not about to be sucked into losing the sovereign control of our Government and Parliament over our foreign and defence policy.

But we are still in trouble with the powers of the European Court of Justice over our laws. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) for contributing to the Bill, because there is now a sovereignty clause, and I hope it works; it is a definite improvement. However, I am extremely worried by the situation in Northern Ireland.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): Does the right hon. Gentleman not understand that Unionists believe that our sovereignty has been removed by this agreement, and that being a Unionist in Northern Ireland is very different from being a Unionist in the rest of the United Kingdom, including the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency? Does he not feel that Unionists have been duped and deceived in how this agreement has been brought forward?

John Redwood: I do not like the provisions on Northern Ireland for the reasons that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have set out. I want the whole country to leave, and Northern Ireland to be a full part of the United Kingdom under the same arrangements. If there are any different arrangements, I certainly want a consent mechanism that is acceptable to the representatives from the Democratic Unionist party and the people they represent.

I am also extremely worried about the money in this set of proposals. We never talk about the money, and so many MPs seem to think that giving billions away to the European Union is just fine. Taking back control of our money was central to the campaign. Indeed, it was very contentious, because people argued about exactly how much it was. I do not think it has been properly quantified. The liabilities are potentially large and long lasting, and there is no attempt in the agreement or the Bill to control them.

Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con): Could my right hon. Friend give us his best estimate of what he thinks the bill will be?

John Redwood: Well, we are told £39 billion, but I think that is a very low estimate; I think it will be considerably more than that and will stretch many years ​into the future under some of the headings that we are providing for. My worry is that the EU will be the main driver in deciding what the bill is because there is not a satisfactory dispute resolution procedure. That means that the EU could levy the bill, saying that it is European law and that it knows best what we should be paying. We have to be extremely careful.

If the Bill does make any progress tonight—that is not looking very likely from some of the things people are saying—I hope that there will be considerable concentration in Committee on whether there are mechanisms for having better discipline over the money, because we voted to take back control of the money. I want some of that money for hospitals, schools and other public facilities in my constituency, and I hope that many other Members of Parliament take the same view. It would be very galling indeed if we found that we were technically out of the European Union but were still paying it a great deal of money.

I approach this agreement in a spirit of disappointment, but I think the Prime Minister was deeply damaged and undermined by the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, which greatly reduced the bargaining leverage of the United Kingdom Government, and I think people recognise that. It is strange that that legislation, which might as well be renamed the “breaking the Prime Minister’s promises” Act, is permissible because surely we either have confidence in our Government and in the Prime Minister to be able to keep his word, or we do not have confidence in our Government collectively, in which case we can get a different Government. This Prime Minister has said that he will take us out on 31 October. There is a lot of support for that in the country, and I hope that we can find a way to make it take place. The Prime Minister has said that we would preferably leave with a deal, but that if we cannot get a decent deal we will leave without a so-called deal.

I think the language is totally misleading. There is no such thing as a no-deal Brexit. There is either leaving and signing a withdrawal agreement or leaving and not signing a withdrawal agreement. Were we to leave not signing a withdrawal agreement, there is an aviation agreement and a Government purchasing agreement, there are haulage and customs arrangements, and there is a general agreement on facilitation of trade through the WTO, so we would have a managed WTO exit, which I think would work extremely well.

I want to spend that money in Britain to promote growth and a stronger economy. I want the free trade agreements that I think we might be able to generate with the rest of the world. If we just left, the EU would want to negotiate a free trade agreement with us, but all the time it thinks it has a chance of our not leaving it is not going to offer anything or be positive about that, because it thinks it might, from its point of view, do something better.


  1. Polly
    October 23, 2019

    ”Taking back control of our fish” does not mean it won’t be part of a bargain for an FTA…

    If you have control of a sum of money, you can exchange it for something else.

    Like Humpty Dumpty, Boris’ words mean absolutely anything !


    1. NickC
      October 23, 2019

      Polly, Whilst you are right to be cautious about Boris’s promises when he is not completely in control, our fishing resources absolutely must not be stolen by the EU (again!) in a trade deal. It would be unjust and indeed absurd. For if we negotiate a trade deal with Japan, say, after we left, would we have to offer our fishing resources to Japan as well? Or the USA?

      1. Hope
        October 24, 2019

        Nick, nothing has changed from Mayhab’s servitude plan. The EU has non discriminatory clause in the servitude plan- a different name to CFP if you like ie allowed to fish in UK waters on the same basis as UK! The Uk will be allowed to have a fairer share of our own fish!

        The transition period is not time limited.

    2. acorn
      October 23, 2019

      Talking of money Polly. You will not be aware of the significance of the UK still being in the EU on January 10 2020. The Spiv City of London, despite having its placemen in the HoC and the HoL, will get smacked by “5MLD”, (EU Fifth Money Laundering Directive). Bad news for Spiv City and UK offshore tax havens.

  2. Lifelogic
    October 23, 2019

    Exactly. Just as you say:-

    “If we just left, the EU would want to negotiate a free trade agreement with us, but all the time it thinks it has a chance of our not leaving it is not going to offer anything or be positive about that, because it thinks it might, from its point of view, do something better.”

    All those who voted for the appalling Hilary Benn surrender/treachury act or are pushing to revoke or hold a fixed/bent/gerrymandered so called “confirmatory” referendum are doing economic and other huge damage to the UK and its citizens. Either they are too stupid to realise this or they are surely blatant traitors to the UK. There is no other explanation that I can see.

    Let us hope they will all be kicked out of parliament very shortly indeed, hopefully with Bercow and the prospect of a Corbyn/Mc Donnall/SNP government all gone too. Before Christmas would be best so I can enjoy my Christmas skiing all the more.

    1. Hope
      October 24, 2019

      Led by and encouraged by Clarke, Letwin, Greive, P. Hammond, Greening, Bebo, Sandbach, Harrington etc. All of whom are still being treated with gratitude and compliments by Johnson in parliament yesterday. Clarke was on the radio in the morning (4 hours before) slagging off Johnson! I think I would have been inclined to remind Clarke the havoc he brought on our economy and suffering or citizens and business because of his fanaticism to join ERM in Major’s govt.

  3. Iain Gill
    October 23, 2019

    Forget this nonsense.

    Get a general election.

    Get the Conservatives to do a deal with the Brexit party.

    Thats it.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      October 23, 2019

      The Right/Leave claim, probably wrongly, that the mood has changed since the 2017 General Election, and so the Tories should be allowed a chance to triumph, and to do otherwise would be defying “the people”.

      Since the mood has also changed since 2016, why can we not have another referendum too on exactly the same basis?

      Come on?

      1. dixie
        October 24, 2019

        Same basis? – The results of the second referendum should operate under the same conditions as the first, be implemented immediately and run for 40+ years. So you can have your 3rd referendum in 2057 at the earliest.

      2. Edward2
        October 24, 2019

        The reason we need an election is to try to get a government that has a majority.
        I haven’t heard your claim that the reason we need an election is “the mood has changed”
        Are you making things up again Martin?

      3. Anonymous
        October 24, 2019

        Because a win for Leave would result in the same problem. A Leave country with a Remain Parliament.


        We need a Referendum Plus, which is a general election with each candidate’s position and voting history on Brexit published foremost. So that – Remain or Leave – some MPs are deselected and we get a Parliament representative of the people. *

        Otherwise you can’t be trusted.

        A rigged referendum will never reunify this country. Remainers don’t want a general election because they know they will lose.

        * Some say that we’ve already had a general election and that resulted in a hung Parliament. But most major parties promised Brexit and we had not seen three years of obstructiveness at that point.

      4. NickC
        October 24, 2019

        Obviously you have no sense of humour, Martin. Voting until we get the right answer is a joke about your EU empire. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.

  4. Here and Now
    October 23, 2019

    So you complain about the same people rehearsing the same arguments, and then say for the umpteenth time that if we just left, the EU would want to negotiate a free trade agreement with us – even though the EU has said patiently over and over again that there will be no talks on trade until the Uk settles its debts, deals with citizens rights and solves the Irish problem it has created.

    1. L Jones
      October 23, 2019

      I think you mean, H&N, that the EU wants the UK to make good its offer of a bribe to talk about trade. Don’t you know that bribery is illegal?
      Citizens’ rights in the UK have already been addressed, and the ”Irish problem” is a problem created by your EU, not the UK.
      The word ”patiently” isn’t one we’d recognise with regard to your much-revered EU. Far more appropriate is the word ”dishonestly”.

    2. Peter Wood
      October 23, 2019

      The EU also said that the backstop/Withdrawal Agreement could not be reopened, and yet they did.
      Mrs May was a Remainer, pretending to want to leave; she concocted this scheme of making the WA an ‘essential’ part of leaving, when it is not.
      We should have told the EU we are leaving, and if they wanted to talk about a FTA then we’d be happy to, and in the 2 Years leading up to 29th March we should have properly prepared for leaving on WTO terms. Mrs May did none of these things because she loved visiting her chums in Europe. Mrs May has cost us Billions!

      1. Simeon
        October 24, 2019

        BJ’s extraction from the EU of this concession to open the WA has been spun as a great victory by those that, at the same time, acknowledge the horrors of the new improved WA, and yet still advocate for it. The truth is the WA hasn’t been opened in any meaningful sense. The backstop has simply been replaced by the frontstop. The EU are laughing at the UK, wondering why it is that our politicians are so credulous, craven and corrupt. The EU knows what it is doing, which makes it so dangerous.

        Reply The so called Implementation period does give the EU substantial powers over us which largely disappear assuming we left on 31 December 2020 as the government says it would. The point of the Sovereignty and scrutiny clauses of the Bill are to provide some protection to the UK but these would need to be examined in committee were the government to bring the Bill back. I am worried about how effective these would be. We were told by the PM prior to the vote that if the programme motion was lost – as it seemed obvious it would be – the government would pull the Bill. So far there is no sign of it re appearing on the Order paper, and time is running out now to get it through in time for the promised October 31 exit. I still have big worries about the proposed Treaty as I made clear in the debate.

        1. Fred H
          October 24, 2019

          I agree the EU are laughing at us. The few arrogant ones we see in our biased media have us by the short and curlies. We have been proven to be no match for their clever calculated scheming. Even when something is spotted most MPs seem to want to ignore it, as do the media. Conspiracy? – Yes of course there is.

    3. Michael McGrath
      October 23, 2019

      They said they would never re-open the WA

    4. NickC
      October 23, 2019

      Here and now, And we have said patiently over and over again that the EU’s demand for money is Danegeld and blackmail; that it is absurd to suppose the UK will treat EU citizens any differently to other foreign visitors; and that if the Irish and the EU are so concerned about their single market, it is their problem, so they will need to treat the Eire/UK border as any other EU border – or ask us nicely to pass the Denis Cooper law.

      It is absurd to demand that the EU should continue to control the UK. That is obviously not leaving. We would not allow any other state to govern us in exchange for mere trade. And most sensible decent countries would not expect it. Only your EU empire is so arrogant.

    5. Mark B
      October 23, 2019

      What it says is not what it always does once the Member Countries change their minds.

  5. Andrew Richards
    October 23, 2019

    My respect to you,

    I agreee completely with everything you write above except one thing: I do not believe the PM and his advisors has ever seriously entertained leaving the EU without a WA, despite his claims. He could and should have advised HRH to withhold Royal Assent to the unconstitutional Surrender Act. Indeed, it was his duty to do so as not only was the Bill tabled in contradiction to unconstitutional precedence and that it usurps the authority of the Executive, but this aptly named Surrender Bill hands over authority of government to a foreign power. This is high treason!!

    That he did not advise HRM to withhold Royal Assent has by extension given a false constitutional legitimacy to this treason. In fact, I would think it makes him and his Government accessory to this treasonous Act. What there is no doubt about is that the PM’s negligence in this regard has forced a clean break Brexit ‘off the table’. Some might imagine that was the intention. And here we are – BRINO. I’m very, very 😡. Johnson is a liar.

    1. Anonymous
      October 24, 2019


      Along with abolishing laws on drugs and the soon to be abolished immigration laws (the tragedy in Purfleet)

      Why do we need a UK Parliament ?

    2. rose
      October 24, 2019

      The Surrender Directive, otherwise known as the Breaking the PM’s Promises Act, could have been killed stone dead in the Lords if only HMG hadn’t been so trusting of the Opposition when they undertook to allow an election on October 15 and not to seize the order paper in the Lords any more if the Conservative Brexiteer Lords would desist from blocking the Directive. It is sickening to hear the Opposition going on about trust when it is they who have broken it.

      Reply It was not as easy as that owing to the device from the Northern Ireland legislation preventing a talk out in the Lords working. That is why the Conservative peers stopped talking.

  6. Denis Cooper
    October 23, 2019

    “However, I am extremely worried by the situation in Northern Ireland.”

    JR, I know that I am just a nobody living in Maidenhead whose views on the largely fabricated problem of the Irish land border can be dismissed as irrelevant by important politicians, even if those views were ever to come to their notice, but I do wonder why the not dissimilar proposals from Lord Empey, who was previously the leader of the Ulster Unionist party, are also being comprehensively ignored:

    In particular, rather than new UK legal controls over imports and exports between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the latter being treated as a kind of buffer zone to protect the integrity of the EU Single Market, why not have new UK legal controls over the much smaller volume of UK exports being carried across the land border, which is after all the locus of the claimed problem.

    “The UK could begin by introducing a new offence which would make it illegal to intentionally use our territory to export goods to the EU that are not compliant with EU regulations and standards.

    A new cross-border body could be established to raise awareness of requirements amongst producers and exporters of the requirements of the Single Market and to carry out inspections on premises and depots to ensure compliance and report to the relevant authorities.

    The UK could undertake to indemnify the EU/Ireland if it is discovered that our territory is being used to export non-compliant goods into the Single Market using the land border on the island of Ireland.”

    1. rose
      October 24, 2019

      Why should we take any responsibility at all for protecting their protection racket? This was Mrs May’s big blunder – the biggest of many. It is not our responsibility any more than we should be responsible for their foreign policy and defence, or their revenues. Why is it alright for them to annex a buffer zone but not the Turks?

      1. Denis Cooper
        October 25, 2019

        Because apart from being a neighbourly thing to do it would be a small price to pay to not only get us all, that is the whole UK, out from the EU but also get us all out from under the economic thumb of the EU.

  7. Shirley
    October 23, 2019

    Without a GE we are stuck with a Remainer Parliament who will happily sell the UK out to the EU. I’ve heard (via the press) that there may be an attempt to repeal the FTPA as this would require a simple majority. Is this true? It could solve many problems.

    First of all though, we need rid of Bercow. Surely there are means and ways of getting rid of him even if means regurgitating the accusations of bullying behaviour, which are quite believable. Why are the Brexiters and democrats in Parliament content to allow him total freedom to continue his destructive bias?

    1. rose
      October 24, 2019

      The Remain Parliament won’t get rid of him for bullying etc. Dame Margaret Becket spoke for them all when she said “Brexit [i.e. scotching Brexit] trumps bad behaviour”.

  8. Fred H
    October 23, 2019

    What a mess this Remainer Parliament is, pretending to be democratic, full of self-important bluster whilst severely damaging the people, and their prospects. The country needs all manner of investment and decisions on subjects such as HS2, International Aid, Defence spending, Taxation – the list ought to be endless. However, the MPs content themselves with verbal diarrhoea, business going nowhere – but hey – they still get paid, their redundancy payment and pension increasing all the while.

    1. Fred H
      October 23, 2019

      I repeated this later minus the last line, which I imagined Sir John took exception to – but of course he was rather busy…

  9. mancunius
    October 23, 2019

    An excellent speech, and the warnings about open-ended financial commitments are timely: unfortunately, as the Greek proverb has it, you can make as much noise as you like at the door of the deaf.

  10. Chris
    October 23, 2019

    A very good clip of Nigel Farage in the European Parliament commenting on the Boris deal.

  11. Julie Williams
    October 23, 2019

    At least a few MPs like yourself can still hold their heads up high.
    Where I live?
    60% Leave, vote and none of The Labour MPs have done a thing…professional cannon fodder.
    Next trick is to lower the voting age to 16, apparently.
    If that doesn’t work, will they disenfranchise the over 60’s?

    1. Beecee
      October 23, 2019

      ‘…. disenfranchise the over 60’s?’

      Andy will love that!

    2. Yorkie
      October 23, 2019

      Where I live in the land of the English ( Yorkshire) we voted 100% Leave. We had our opinions before the vote. We have one opinion after the vote. We ALL voted Leave. It is our Way.

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        October 23, 2019

        Leeds voted Remain.

        York voted Remain.


        Silly posts like that are indeed your way.

        1. Fred H
          October 24, 2019

          Leeds and York being major student cities, where the population is swelled by EU youngsters.

  12. agricola
    October 23, 2019

    Well said. At this point in time all the arguments have been repeated many times and remain are intent on achieving remain in the EU irrespective of any logical argument, a referendum result, and what everyone promised in their respective manifestos. Remain have lied, and consorted with the EU to achieve their undemocratic ends. Were they to be granted a second referendum and irrespective of it’s result, what chance is there of this ragbag of parliamentarians complying with the result, very little I fear. Hopefully Boris has a way of leaving under WTO rules and no WA2 on the 31st October, while offering the FTA and continuity under a mutually agreed Art 24 of GATT. I could not guess at how he circumvents the pernicious blocking legislation of Benn and Letwin. Failing that the logical conclusion is a General Election to clear the swamp.

  13. Chris
    October 23, 2019

    As I said in my comment yesterday, the contributions that I heard you make in the H of C were excellent, and I cannot understand why your obvious talent, experience and wisdom are not made use of in government.

    More on Boris’s deal: I don’t always agree with Melanie Phillips but I think she is absolutely right in her assessment of the deal:

  14. gyges
    October 23, 2019

    “I and 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union” … everyone who voted in the referendum voted with the intention that the majority view should prevail. It isn’t about a mere 17.4million but the 34 plus million who participated in a democratic process.

    The dialectic is not Brexiteer vs Remainer but Democrat vs Reneger …

    1. Mark B
      October 23, 2019

      Good points !

    2. Prigger
      October 23, 2019

      We ALL voted Leave. This mucking about with our democratic principle by, one second after the result when the result Leave is announced by dividing us up… again, like a piece of pseudo-intellectual pie is not on. We should not fall as some may be doing inadvertently in this after-the-event division. We ALL voted Leave.

  15. agricola
    October 23, 2019

    Reference the financial bill. It should take account of the UK’s contribution to all the EU real estate in Europe, a sum to be repaid the UK. It should also reflect our financial contribution to the ECB. These loans we have made from time to time should be due for repayment in the course of time, unless of course we saw them as out and out gifts. That is the credit side of the account. the debit side should be confined to joint ventures we have signed up to, some short term, some in perpetuity. From the day we leave we cannot be expected to shore up the EU budget, this must be tailored to the resources of the remaining members. On this basis I do not see us owing anywhere near the £39 Billion rabbit produced from an EU hat, in fact surprise surprise they could end up owing us.

  16. Norman
    October 23, 2019

    Thank you, Sir John. I hope they will listen! Otherwise, let Parliament put it to an election, so that we can endorse your speech!
    I was interested in what Torquil Dick-Erikson had to say in comments to this blog a couple of days ago, and elsewhere He explains the historic distinction between our laws and the Continental model, especially in relation to the European Arrest Warrant (EWA) – another feature hidden away in Boris’s ‘deal.’ No wonder, when I came up against Brussels legislation in the course of my work back in the 1980’s, I found it to be of an oppressive spirit, which was difficult to explain at the time.
    We should make no mistake – our historic freedom is definitely on the line. That is why I hope that Boris’s ‘deal’, despite his hard work and good intentions, will fail, and we proceed to the perfectly adequate WTO formula as a starting point.

  17. msm helping agendas
    October 23, 2019

    This lorry tragedy shows a border Control in the Irish Sea as Boris has planned is a good idea.

    1. Prigger
      October 23, 2019

      There should be a wall!

  18. Rule Britannia
    October 23, 2019

    Well said JR. Strange that your comments are rarely reported in the mainstream media.

    News filtering is as dangerous as ‘fake news’. Perhaps you might talk to someone who’s in a position to look into that aspect of news coverage? When you look at, for example, Guido Fawkes web site, you discover all sorts of things that are not reported by the mainstream media every day.

    Is this in contravention of the BBC charter? I don’t know, but I do know that it should be.

  19. Everhopeful
    October 23, 2019

    Very well said.
    But yes…the endless debate. So utterly enervating.
    Yet the main question is come in a “democracy” do we need to hesitate over the implementation of a truly democratic decision?
    We voted to leave so we must leave. Now.
    How anyone even dares to mention a second referendum and how others ALLOW them to mention one is totally beyond me. Disgusting.

  20. David Webb
    October 23, 2019

    OK, I have to admit that was a good speech. So we do have someone in the Commons reminding Boris that his “do or die” promise is not cancelled by the House of Common’s failure to pass the (unconstitutional) programme motion. It doesn’t matter if we leave without a deal – in fact it is preferable – and he must stick to the October 31st date. Otherwise, I hope the Brexit Party stands against the Conservatives in every seat in the ensuring election. That could lead to Corby coming to power, but you only get one chance to get Brexit right, so it is not worth accepting a poor quality deal now. Even if Corbyn did come to power and cancel Brexit, the next Conservative government could take us out on the no deal (presuming there were any real conservatives in the parliamentary Conservative Party). We need to defenestrate the likes of Cheryl Gillan — a Lib Dem in disguise — and retain only the conservatives.

  21. L Jones
    October 23, 2019

    Thank you, Sir John. It’s heartening at least to hear someone talking sense, straightforwardly and without guile. We hear little enough of it these days.

    1. cornishstu
      October 24, 2019


  22. NickC
    October 23, 2019

    JR, An excellent speech which encapsulated what I voted Leave for. Thank you.

  23. Fred H
    October 23, 2019

    What a mess this Remainer Parliament is, pretending to be democratic, full of self-important bluster whilst severely damaging the people, and their prospects. The country needs all manner of investment and decisions on subjects such as HS2, International Aid, Defence spending, Taxation – the list ought to be endless. However, the MPs content themselves with verbal repetition, irrelevance, and filibuster.

  24. Mark B
    October 23, 2019

    Good afternoon.

    It is NOT an agreement, it is a brand new EU Treaty ! And one we cannot get out of no matter what people say.

  25. Edwardm
    October 23, 2019

    As always a good speech by JR, makes the right points clearly and concisely.
    I share JR’s concerns about the WA – particularly that the EU can keep demanding money from us, our EU bank liabilities should be terminated but aren’t and the role of the ECJ.
    I don’t find reassurances on defence and foreign policy very convincing – those articles and many others should have been removed from the WA.
    And the suggestion to align with the EU should not be in the PD.
    This treaty complicates matters and gives advantage to the EU.

    I find JR is one of the very few MPs who are truly on the side of the British people – why do so many MPs prefer deference to a foreign regime with some showing outright hostility to our independence and freedom. It is saddening.

    1. Simon Coleman
      October 25, 2019

      But he’s not on the side of the people of Northern Ireland, is he? Customs border down the Irish Sea…even May rejected that. This is the real surrender of the day, not the Benn Act. The ERG were happy to throw the DUP under a bus when they were no longer useful. That’s the kind of people the ERG are – pretend patriots peddling an anti-EU poison that’s wrecking our country.

  26. Ian Stafford
    October 23, 2019

    Clause 36 of the Bill gives me great jurisprudential concern. The clause provides that it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is sovereign.

    This is I suggest a piece of nonsense which has been inserted into the Bill for a political and not a legal purpose.

    The first point is that it says that the parliamentary sovereignty is recognised. By whom we ask? It is a silly phrase. It could have two meanings. That it is recognised that Parliament could repeal this Act or that it is recognised that United Kingdom law supersedes the application of EU law that the agreement imposes.

    However, the notion of Parliamentary Sovereignty being legislated for is in itself nonsense. I draw from two legal sources:

    “The principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty means neither more nor less than this namely, the Parliament thus defined has under the English constitution the right to make or unmake any law whatsoever and further that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as being a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament” {Dicey “Law of Constitution”]

    More importantly, is this from Hart in “The concept of Law”:

    “But whence comes the rule that Acts of Parliament have the force of law? This is legally ultimate. The source is historical not legal… it is the law because it is the law, and for no other reason that it is possible for the laws to take notice of. No statute can confer this power upon Parliament for this would be to assume and act on the very power that is to be conferred.”

    It was in deference to these doctrines that the European Communities Act did not divest Parliamentary sovereignty to the EU. The courts have held that Parliament devolved some powers to the EU and retained the power to repatriate them. This is what will be done when the ECA is repealed. [I recognise that the extent of this devolution has become extensive and the legality of EU law whilst we are in the EU means that the United Kingdom courts have to comply with the judgments of the ECJ. That European Court said [Van Gend en Loos] that EU law was a new genus of law nether domestic, nor international but supreme within the Union. But the sovereignty of Parliament has ultimately been persevered and evidenced by the provision in the EUWA2018 that the ECA72 shall be repealed. It was always better to have spoken of the supremacy of statute than “sovereignty” of Parliament in this context]. The sovereignty of Parliament is better used to describe the power of Parliament to repeal any Act of Parliament.

    The point which Hart, and the courts, have made is that Parliamentary sovereignty has not been conferred upon Parliament by any other source. Yet here we have a statutory provision apparently doing that. Section (1) “it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is sovereign” . Section (3) “Accordingly, nothing in this Act derogates from the sovereignty of the Parliament of the United Kingdom”

    My gripe is that I suspect this clause was forced upon the draftsmen by politicians to make a political point to the people. As Hart and history of the English people show this supremacy of legal power has grown up and developed through a number of stages of history: it loses its meaning if it is defined as a law. What one might ask would happen to the sovereignty of Parliament it these provisions were to be repealed? As sovereignty is declared by these provisions it must be true that they can be repealed; but if they are repealed what is the position of the doctrine. If this confers sovereignty does the sovereignty now derive from the clause? Even considering this in the narrow context of the clause still raises the conceptual problem.

    Finally the power should have been expressed in terms of the supremacy of statute; it needed only: –

    “Subsection (2) to provide that notwithstanding section 1A or 1B of the EUWA18 continuing directly applicable or directly effective EU law any repeal or revocation of that law shall not be reviewed in the Courts of the Jurisdictions within the United Kingdom on the grounds that if conflicts with existing EU law; nor shall the courts recognise any judgment of the EU which conflicts with this section.”

  27. perebois
    October 23, 2019

    We will never leave. We won’t leave without a deal, and we won’t leave with a deal. We won’t leave at all. This will be because there is no version of Brexit that can possibly be effective.

    There will be a general election, another hung parliament will be elected, the Liberals will do well, and so will the SNP. There will be some kind of alliance with Labour and there will be a bloc of MPs voting consistently to deny the Conservatives the ability to pass the necessary laws to implement Brexit. Eventually there will be a government motion to introduce a referendum bill. By this time next year the country will have voted to stay in the EU and after a fortnight of whingeing there will be barely a single person who can remember what all the fuss was about.

    Brexit is dead. Dead as a dodo. And so are the careers of the headbangers who have devoted their lives to breathing life into this weird, alien creature.

    1. NickC
      October 23, 2019

      Perebois, If being out of the EU constitutes a “weird, alien creature” then the entire rest of the world consists of “weird, alien creatures”. Alternatively you are deluded if you believe the EU to be that omnipotent. Moreover, it is not just about Brexit now, it is about democracy – we voted to leave the EU, and leave we shall. Anything less is to demolish our democracy, fought for over centuries.

    2. a-tracy
      October 24, 2019

      Perebois, and then I predict years of unrest and disagreement and anger about every law and rule that the EU imposes on us. Every veto removal such as on tax, foreign policy, financial transaction taxes, the EU army, extra taxes on more untaxed cobbled together ways of fining us. More and more homes needed for more low paid foreigners (who take the jobs and then just don’t pay the rent and take a year to get kicked out of private rentals – we all see them) who are given social council and housing association low-cost rental homes over the heads of our own children.

  28. Prigger
    October 23, 2019

    You’ll make profit even if sales falter on the increase in land’s rocketing. Get go! Rule Britannia! The Canadian Tories will be in power in the next Federal Elections in five years and things will be even better!Now they are a minority government which lends itself to engaging with MPs and Councillors in community issues :-;
    No need to thank me.

  29. an idea
    October 23, 2019

    Corbyn thinks Boris fake news event to push his Irish border idea is justification for open door immigration and proves everything he ever believed on the matter, right?

  30. Richard1
    October 23, 2019

    Good speech, the format in Parliament doesn’t seem to require any specific answers to the points you raise, which as just as well for those who wouldn’t agree with you, as there wouldn’t be good answers.

    But it’s 2 – 2 1/2 years too late isn’t it? We kept on with mrs May through the terrible election campaign, after she had agreed the sequencing of negotiations, after she had agreed the Irish backstop, and even after the chequers proposals. So we are where we are. We will have to take the £39bn (or whatever the number is) on the nose and the other unsatis clauses re the ECJ. But we do now have a basis to agree a sensible FTA, allowing the UK trade and regulatory autonomy – which mrs May’s deal ruled out, and without which there is no point at all to Brexit.

    So I think it’s decision time. It’s Boris and Brexit (albeit with significant costs which could have been avoided), or Corbyn and communism. The voters of Wokingham, like me, would like to avoid the Corbyn and communism option.

    1. NickC
      October 23, 2019

      Richard1, My prediction (and I make very few) – the EU will never agree to “a sensible FTA, allowing the UK trade and regulatory autonomy”. Sensible as in: trade for trade, only. At the very least the EU will take our fish, for the privilege of the UK having a £90bn trade deficit with the EU.

  31. eleanor justice
    October 23, 2019

    They will all be wearing their poppies soon .The Cenotaph should fall on them

    1. dixie
      October 24, 2019

      they should be wearing white feathers

      1. Fred H
        October 24, 2019

        you could send some to the MPs concerned?

  32. Fake News Lorries
    October 23, 2019

    Sorry, John, all it takes is a few bent coppers to deceive the entire Parliament with high emotional drivel, Parliament is not fit for purpose.

    Just spoke to Hitchens and he agrees.

  33. alan jutson
    October 23, 2019

    Keep up the pressure JR, You talk far more sense than the vast majority of MP’s do when all added up together.

  34. everyone knows
    October 23, 2019

    How can Prettt Patel say her thoughts are with the families of the loved ones suffering grief at this time when the nervous copper said they hadn’t identified them and didn’t even know what country they were from?

  35. Christine
    October 23, 2019

    The public will be very angry when they find out that this Withdrawal Treaty doesn’t end the Brexit debate. Barnier has said the next phase will last a minimum of 3 years. We will be stuck accepting new EU rules with no say or veto. The damage they will do to our country during this period will be huge, as we have to be made an example of. Signing this treaty will be the biggest mistake ever taken by any Government and the Conservative Party will never be forgiven. Keep fighting John for what you believe in.

  36. StolenFrom
    October 23, 2019

    Do we pay the £39b sum in sterling, euros, or dollars?

    Anyone know?

    1. alan jutson
      October 24, 2019

      stolen from

      if we are going to pay at all, we should certainly deduct the cost of the extension periods, thus it should be reducing by £1 billion per month.

      Is it ?

  37. Wokingham Mum
    October 23, 2019

    Yes Parliament are letting the public down be it remain or leave. We had a referendum. Honour the brief. But I don’t believe you can blame Boris. He should against my better judgement, and I was wrong then, have been PM from the start. I now think the deal would have been done within the year. Perhaps the Johnson/ Gove spat was the problem?

    1. Lifelogic
      October 24, 2019

      Gove was indeed the problem and then the dire, dim, remainer/socialist Theresa May with her dire sidekick Hammond. But the main problem is that the Conservative Party is stuffed with so many daft Libdim MPs undermining the party.

      At least 21+ of them have thank goodness now gone.

      They must never be allowed to return.

      1. Fred H
        October 24, 2019

        LL -They haven’t gone – still in the H of C often voting against the Government. Those that wish to stay will have to explain to the electorate. Sudden new party, new policies, deselected – try next constituency just like Dr Lee. How he imagines he could get my vote after years of being a Conservative (name only it seems), now suddenly wants them out, and pleads always wanted Lidreamer policies, shaken not stirred with some Green ones….It has to be a joke?

  38. Jeremy
    October 23, 2019

    What I don’t understand is how Boris has the nerve to present his so called “deal” as Brexit. In some ways it’s worse than Mrs May’s WA given the Irish sea border and that received record defeats in the HoC.

    Did Boris think he could bounce parliament and the country into accepting a dreadful deal?

    If Boris can get a clean Brexit by the end of the month then he will deserve a statue in parliament square. As things stand now, he’s best forgotten.

  39. Jeremy
    October 23, 2019

    I hear your reassurance regarding sovereignty of foreign policy, however a MEP has tweeted on this subject stating the new WAB permanently restricts the UK’s sovereignty by preventing the UK from taking “any action likely to conflict with or impede” EU foreign policy (Article 129(6)).

    Other websites also raise this issue.

    I have checked the WA and this text is in there. So who is correct? Would we lose sovereignty of our foreign policy if the WAB comes into law?

    BTW thank you for all your work on Brexit – you are one of the few in the HoC left working for a clean Brexit. Your efforts are much appreciated.

    1. Fred H
      October 23, 2019

      Jeremy… really is worse in places than the ‘Treaty of Versailles’ the EU got May to pin her name to. I’m staggered that any MP would agree to it.

      1. Jeremy
        October 24, 2019

        Indeed – the worst for me is the border down the Irish sea followed closely by paying to take EU laws with no say for any time at all. Having to take EU rules for a day with no say is unacceptable. Boris has gone and signed up to take EU rules for an indeterminant time. What was he thinking?

        It’s disgraceful and particularly worrying given that the Tory party are still trying to sell it.

        Steve Baker even had the nerve to goad Brexit voters on twitter last night with his “Tactics to provoke Brexiteers” tweet. I feel for our host and what he must be going through.

        1. a-tracy
          October 24, 2019

          Actually Jeremy don’t you think we need to do lots more checks on freight movements from all ports from Ireland?

      2. Fred H
        October 24, 2019

        silly me…of course the ones which are now well known rebels wish us to be trapped into the EU forever.

    2. Here and Now
      October 24, 2019

      Of course you are right Jeremy. Inside the EU we have a strong voice on policy. Outside the EU we have no voice, but have to follow EU rules and practice. This is exactly what Brexit means – freedom to be led by the nose by a much more powerful neighbour. And every single Conservative MP voted for this on Tuesday.

      1. a-tracy
        October 24, 2019

        Can you give me three examples in the 3 years prior to 2016 that the UK had a strong voice and overturned policy please?

        I can give you three examples of times our wishes were completely ignored in return.

        1. Here and Now
          October 25, 2019

          No, we don’t overturn policy, we make policy. The UK is a leader. Or it was – Brexit has turned it into an outsider, weaker than Malta or Ireland

          Reply The UK just follows EU policy in most cases.

  40. AJAX
    October 23, 2019

    The Tories are going to have to be realistic & make an electoral pact of some description with the Brexit Party, this arrangement struck by the Government with the eu is not the clear blue water break with the organisation to seize the initiative in the public imagination, & its details are sufficiently hazy to have the consequence that it doesn’t remove the Brexit Party’s electoral raison d’etre to the 52%. Labour & LibDems are already making electoral alliances tacitly at the constituency level, & combined with determined tactical voting & activism by the pro-EU 48% (many of whom have been radicalized on this issue over the last 3 years) could see them into government together, which will kill the 2016 Referendum result. To fail to manouvre when the opponent is marching upon one’s flank is to invite defeat, & a failure to leave the eu would take the Kingdom into politically uncharted waters, made worse by the dangerously low calibre of the current Labour/LibDem leaderships. Farage is a cad, but he’s not a threat to the country, & the personal insults coming out of #10 directed at him recently when he publicly offered an electoral pact were ill-judged, & condescendingly complacent.

  41. Ian
    October 24, 2019

    Well I am as sick of this as anyone.
    I do not trust this Parliament, this government, this Establishment.
    I only trust the Brexit Party, the clue is in the name. I want a general election ASAP.
    I would like to hear that Capital punishment has been brought back, and that those treacherous people will get there just deserts.
    I want an immediate Clear break from the EU
    Incidentally, did this Nation ever get any Second World War expenses from Europe, no I thought not

  42. ChrisS
    October 24, 2019

    I am in complete agreement with your conclusions, however, thanks to the catastrophic handling of negotiations by May and Robbins and the actions of the Remainer majority in Parliament we are in no position to get a better deal or leave under WTO terms.

    I only hope that we can secure a Conservative majority government without the likes of Grieve and Rudd and Boris can play hardball with the EU during trade deal negotiations.
    To facilitate the negotiations we simply must be free to walk away at the end of the transition period if there is no satisfactory trade deal on offer.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    October 24, 2019

    Mr Johnson could put his Bill before parliament without a timetable motion. Inevitably, the Remoaners would filibuster and table wrecking amendments.

    Then on 31st October, Mr Johnson could write to Mr Tusk stating that the Benn letter was unsigned and that therefore the UK does not want and will not accept any extension to the Article 50 date.

    Then on 1st November, Mr Johnson could announce that we have (past tense) left the European without a deal, with all that that implies.

  44. Simon Coleman
    October 25, 2019

    “I do not like the provisions on Northern Ireland for the reasons that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have set out. I want the whole country to leave, and Northern Ireland to be a full part of the United Kingdom under the same arrangements.” So why did you vote for it then?
    And you’ve already voted against one type of Brexit (3 times) but are ready to condemn people for voting against this type of Brexit. Your argument was that May’s deal wasn’t Brexit – but how is Johnson’s deal Brexit, when the whole UK isn’t leaving all the EU regulatory systems?

    Reply I do not want a Withdrawal Treaty but do want to leave. Most in Parliament either want to stay or want a Withdrawal Treaty so getting to what I want is difficult! I was assured by the PM in his clear statement in the debate that he would withdraw the bill if he lost the Timetable motion, which I was sure he would lose.

  45. English Outsider
    October 26, 2019

    ” If there are any different arrangements, I certainly want a consent mechanism that is acceptable to the representatives from the Democratic Unionist party and the people they represent.”

    That is the crucial point.

    The argument that we should accept this deal because it’s the only “Brexit” that can be got past a largely remainer Parliament is a powerful one.

    It’s not powerful enough. I accept, as a member of the general public who can have no accurate idea of the pressures HMG is under in the House of Commons, that that is easy to say. But it is true.

    We have been here before. Mr’s May promised “no deal is better than a bad deal” and then reneged by agreeing a very bad deal. I accept that in doing so she grievously handicapped the next administration, but what of “I’d rather die in a ditch”?

    The House of Commons obligingly dug a deep and wide ditch for Mr Johnson but I did not see him expiring in it. We have been indeed here before. And there is not a Conservative in the country who does not know it.

    Again, that is easy to say for a member of the general public who is not experiencing the pressures in the HoC. Where there can be no dispute is that we are selling out our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland. That moves the question of Mr Johnson’s deal from the expedient to the dishonourable. We did not vote Brexit for that.

    I was relieved to see you expressing the doubts I have italicised above. I do not see how you, as one of the staunchest of the leaver MP’s, can accept any deal that does what this one does to those men and women in Northern Ireland, Unionists who could not have guessed, when they themselves voted for Brexit, that that would lead to our abandoning them.

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