There has been much talk about further amendments to the Bill, which could embolden the EU to be even more intransigent or limit the Prime Minister’s options at the negotiating table. This would be really dangerous.
The House of Lords must not pass any such amendments thwarting the will of the elected Commons and that of the British people.
They must not be tempted in any way to limit the Prime Minister’s freedom to act as necessary to secure the best possible deal for the United Kingdom, even if that means walking away.
All the Lords’ amendments to the Withdrawal Bill were defeated by the elected Commons this week.
The Bill now returns to the Lords on Monday giving the Government maximum freedom to negotiate and deliver Brexit.
The Prime Minister goes to Brussels for crunch talks in a fortnight with a strong hand. Remember that the EU sells £72 billion more to the UK than we sell to them; over half of our exports go elsewhere. They need our £9 billion net annual contributions to the EU budget.
But in any negotiation, the negotiator must retain and, if necessary, exercise the right to walk away without a deal if he or she is to have any hope of securing a good one. There would be no point haggling in a car showroom if the dealer knew you had to buy the car whatever the outcome.
In 2015, the Commons voted – by 6 to 1 – deliberately and voluntarily to give responsibility for the final decision on our membership of the EU to the British people. 17.4 million people voted to leave – more than have voted for any issue or party in our history.
At last year’s General Election, 85 percent of the electorate voted for parties whose manifestos guaranteed we would leave. The Conservatives explicitly said we would leave the Single Market and the Customs Union because to do otherwise would not truly be leaving.
To read Owen Paterson’s piece for the Daily Express in full, click here.