MPs back Brexit stance after vote

MPs from the borough who voted against the recent Brexit bill in Parliament have strongly defended their decisions following criticism.

Tuesday, 19th September 2017, 11:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:44 am
Lisa Nandy MP

Activists and members of the public expressed concern that Wigan’s parliamentary representative Lisa Nandy and her colleague for Leigh Jo Platt had voted against the European Union Withdrawal Bill.

Critics said the MPs stance was wrong because the area had heavily voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

However, both Ms Nandy and Ms Platt used their columns in our sister papers the Wigan Observer and Leigh Observer to back up their vote, also speaking out publicly on social media.

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Both say they are not trying to block Britain’s exit from the EU but are deeply concerned about aspects of the current bill, especially its use of so-called Henry VIII powers which will enable Government ministers to make decisions without the scrutiny of Parliament.

Ms Nandy said: "The Bill hands huge, unaccountable power to Tory ministers and to unelected civil servants in London.

"Already far too much power is concentrated in London and too many decisions that affect us are made hundreds of miles away, often by people who haven’t even bothered to visit.

"Throughout the Referendum campaign many leave voters told me they were voting leave because they wanted the British Parliament to make decisions about the issues that affect our lives. I do not believe that anybody voted to take back control by giving away the Parliamentary democracy we’ve fought for for hundreds of years.

"That’s why I joined MPs from every party in opposing these plans and to tell the Tories that if they want the country’s support they must take our British Parliament seriously."

Ms Platt was sent an open letter from Richard Short, the chair of Wigan Borough Conservatives, setting out Brexit activists’ worries.

He wrote: "You take our views to Parliament and vote in the House of Commons to represent us as best you can.

" I’m baffled, then, that you voted to scrap the EU Withdrawal Bill. You didn’t need to canvass our opinions and there was no second guessing our views. You had the results of a comprehensive referendum to tell you exactly how your constituents want you to vote and yet you decided to vote to stop the process in its tracks.

"You will have ample time and opportunity in the next stages to debate the parts which concern you, propose changes and amendments and vote on each of them."

However, Ms Platt responded: "This Bill is not about stopping Brexit. That issue was settled in the national referendum.

"This Bill, however, is about protecting and safeguarding vital rights as we leave, and what part parliament must play in ensuring that proper scrutiny of legislation before it becomes law.

"This would be a sensible approach to take but for the Government choosing to include clauses that would allow the cabinet complete control of the legislation and amend at will as it makes its way from EU to UK Law.

"All this without need of approval or scrutiny from the people that were elected to parliament in June to do just that.

"The Government says it won’t use the powers to do bad things, but these powers also have the capacity to change laws that we currently rely on to protect our rights.

"The Bill in its current form does not reflect the best interests of the people of Leigh who deserve the right to have laws that affect them directly debated and scrutinised in Parliament."