Frank Field has been a bit of a rebel for most of his time in the Commons.
Governments, both Labour and Conservative, have been in his sights except for a brief period (14 months) when he was Minister for Welfare Reform under Tony Blair.
He had tabled an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, NC49, attempting to fix 30th March 2019 as the date that the UK ceased to be a member of the European Union.
Following a vigorous debate yesterday evening, he withdrew his amendment.
Why does he want the date put in the Bill? You may well ask, but it seems that he is allying himself with those in Whitehall who seek to trap the UK into a deadline that is not only unnecessary but also imprudent – some would say foolish.
The government has tabled its own amendment, 381, which not only sets the date for the UK leaving the EU but also defines it as the “Exit Day” for the various purposes in the Bill. This amendment will not be voted on until day 8 of the committee stage, something that may not happen until just before the Christmas recess.
Not that that should be any reason for complacency.
Why would a government committed to getting the best possible deal for the UK seek to impose on itself a fixed date for completing the negotiations? How can that possibly be a wise negotiating strategy, let alone something that works in the best interest of the UK?
Unless the real purposes is to close down the UK’s options and try to convince the UK, its people and the rest of the world that Theresa May is in charge with her “Deal or No Deal” strategy.
It appears to be yet another example of the Government’s sleight of hand, another deliberate attempt to mislead and fool us. A move that seems designed to increase the chances of the UK crashing out of the EU with “No Deal”, which most informed people agree would be the worst possible outcome for the UK.
Apart from anything else how can it possibly be a sound and prudent idea to set an end date for the current arrangements without having even defined what it is that the UK wants post EU membership?
Ask your MP: what the reasoning behind amendment 381 is and how this helps to ensure that the UK will better off as a “third country” than as a member; how is amendment 381 a prudent course of action that is in the best interest of the UK and its people?
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.