A former Labour Europe minister has slammed her party for trying to “kill” the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, as the Brexit minister insists blocking the legislation will cause “chaos”.
Caroline Flint, now a leading backbencher, also said she would defy a three-line whip and instead support the Tories and vote for the bill, which will bring 40 years of European Union (EU) law into British law.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats claim that the bill gives the Government too much power to change laws by decree and amounts to a “power grab” that will weaken Parliament.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she called for her party to amend the bill rather than block it, insisting that voting it down was not what the British public wanted.
She said: “I believe Labour’s job is to improve this bill not kill it as it begins its passage through Parliament.”
Labour MPs Ordered to Oppose Brexit Bill in ‘Monstrous Betrayal’ of Party’s Voters
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 6, 2017
Adding: “I have to make a decision on this and these decisions aren’t easy and I have never broken the whip at all but I do believe that in respecting the outcome of the referendum, in respecting what I said to my electors in a general election just a few months ago.
“It’s important that we get on with the job of making sure we can have a smooth an exit from the European Union as possible. Whoever was in Government would have to have a bill like this to begin its journey.”
The bill will be debated during its second reading in the House of Commons until midnight on Monday before a vote on whether it should proceed. If it is blocked, the Government could struggle to create legal stability after Brexit.
The Brexit Secretary David Davis has asserted that the British people “did not vote for confusion” in last year’s referendum, and urged the opposition to vote through the legislation.
According to Sky News, he said: “The British people did not vote for confusion and neither should Parliament. Providing certainty and stability in the lead up to our withdrawal is a key priority.
“Businesses and individuals need reassurance that there will be no unexpected changes to our laws after exit day and that is exactly what the repeal bill provides.
“Without it, we would be approaching a cliff edge of uncertainty which is not in the interest of anyone.”
Labour’s shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman defended her party’s stance, insisting, “Labour will not block Brexit.”
She told Sky News: “If you disagree with anything the Government does on Brexit you are a Brexit betrayer.
“Our position is about this being a very bad bill – It’s bad for our democracy, it doesn’t enable Parliament to take back control the way that people want, and crucially it gives ministers these powers that they just don’t need for Brexit.”