The Article 50 Bill, more properly the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, has passed all its stages in the House of Commons.
The SNP tabled a whole raft of amendments at Committee Stage. Labour tabled some others. The House voted on some of them and defeated all it voted on.
That meant there was no need for a Report Stage and the Bill passed straight to Third Reading. Read the Hansard record of the Debate here. The House duly gave the Bill its Third Reading. The majority was 372.
Article 50 Bill Amendments
We single out three amendments. Labour tabled one requiring parliamentary approval before a final agreement with the EU. That was defeated by 33 votes, the DUP, UKIP and half-a-dozen Labour MPs joining the Conservatives in saying ‘No’ to it’. (This is Division 141 in the Hansard link above.)
The Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment requiring a second referendum before a final agreement. Only the LIbDems, Plaid Cymru, the Green, Northern Ireland’s SDLP and a few Labour MPs voted for that. Most of Labour abstained. Again, half-a-dozen Labour MPs, the DUP and UKIP joined the Conservatives in the ‘No’ lobby. Accordingly, 340 MPs said ‘No’ in Division 156. Only 33 voted ‘Aye’.
Thirdly, Labour asked the House to mandate Theresa May to allow EU citizens the right to stay in the UK. They wanted her to give this assurance without securing an equivalent promise for UK citizens from the EU. The House defeated that amendment in Division 159 by 42 votes.
Finally, in Division 161, the House of Commons gave the Bill a Third Reading by 494 votes to 122. Labour imposed a three-line whip. (Their whips underlined the instruction to MPs to vote for the Bill three times.) Of couse, most Labour ‘rebels’ represent inner city constituencies which voted ‘Remain’. Equally, a couple of shadow ministers have resigned. Nevertheless, Jeremy Corbyn will impose no sanctions on Labour MPs who voted against. The point was simply to show Labour as a party respects the referendum result.
The Hand of God
Some may wonder why Theresa May did not agree to seek Parliamentary approval when Gina Miller first brought her court action to compel it. After all, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50.
The reason, quite simply, could be the hand of God. In this analysis, the Lord allowed the court case to proceed and by so doing blessed the United Kingdom. Firstly, he confused the minds of ministers so they would not notice Labour’s promise not to obstruct the process. That allowed the case to proceed. Secondly, the Supreme Court’s involvement gave legitimacy to the Parliamentary course of action. It silenced any doubters. As a result, the Government now has a much better hand. They can negotiate with the EU from a position of greater strength than if they had used the Royal Prerogative. The House even squashed the idea of a second referendum. That idea is now dead.
Thirdly, the Court ruled against giving the SNP (in particular) a veto over the process. That was possibly as important an outcome as any.
Psalm 30:4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Now the Bill passes to the House of Lords, so remember to keep praying for our parliamentarians.
View our EU videos – relevant to the Article 50 debate
View our videos on YouTube. They are all around three and a half minutes in length and very watchable:
The European Union’s Tower of Babel – filmed in Strasbourg,
European Union’s Woman on the Beast – filmed in Brussels,.
The European Union’s Pagan Foundation – filmed in Rome,
The European Union’s Roman Empire – filmed in Rome and Bath,
European Union – Does the Lord keep the City? filmed in Brussels and London (on Psalm 127).
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