Sir William Cash made the following interventions during yesterday’s debate on Parliamentary Scrutiny of Leaving the EU.
Sir William Cash: My right hon. Friend has, I think, a slight problem here. I understand from remarks made by Members on both sides of the House that when we repeal the 1972 Act, as we intend to do, some will not want to resist it—I see my right hon. Friend nodding her head, for which I am grateful. It is simply not possible for us to be in the single market on the one hand and on the other hand repeal the laws that are implicit in the 1972 Act. We cannot be in the single market and repeal the jurisdiction of that Act.
Sir William Cash: I am not giving way for the moment. I am saying that we cannot both be in the single market and repeal the 1972 Act, whose laws are part of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. I will give way now to the former Attorney-General.
Mr Grieve: My hon. Friend will doubtless agree with me that over the next three to four years we will get out of one treaty and replace it with at least another, if not a multiplicity of treaties—part of the 13,000 by which we are bound internationally at present. He might also agree that Norway provides an example of a country that participates in the single market without being a member of the European Union. Does that not completely destroy the argument that my hon. Friend has just put forward?
Sir William Cash: It does not, because I said implicitly that we would not be able to go into the European economic area for that very reason. The British people have spoken in the referendum, and everyone in the Chamber says that they respect the views of the British people, yet at the same time we hear these weasel words that somehow imply that it is possible to leave the European Union, repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and still remain within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That is just nonsense—political and legal nonsense.
Sir William Cash:I have given way enough for now, and I want to continue with what I have to say. I shall come back to this issue on another occasion, but my position is abundantly clear and correct: we cannot both be in the single market and repeal the 1972 Act.
What is the meaning of the answer to the question? It meant that, by the consent of the voters given by the sovereignty of this House, this Parliament agreed to give to the British people the right to transfer from Members of Parliament in their place today and beforehand to them the decision on whether we remained or left. That decision was taken by a majority of something of the order of 6:1. In my judgment, it is unseemly if not absurd for the same Members of Parliament to say, “Oh, well, we did not like the outcome of the result” and then to say “We are now going to mitigate or try to overturn it”.
No, I am not giving way at this stage.
We are debating whether under the terms of this motion we will get a decision or a vote on the issue of trade negotiations before the triggering of article 50, so let me make this point, which is at the heart or at the least surface of the debate, about the Labour party and the Labour Government. No decision was taken by the then Labour Government to have a similar kind of condition imposed on the negotiating deal back in 1975, or indeed in October 1971. Neither in 1975 nor 1971 was there any attempt to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations, which I think speaks for itself.
Jack Dromey: The hon. Gentleman has accused Labour Members of being disingenuous and unseemly if we express concerns about the consequences of leaving the European Union. I represent the Erdington constituency, which is rich in talent but one of the poorest in the country. It is home to the Jaguar factory, which has doubled in size over the last five years and has transformed the lives of thousands of local people. It is absolutely correct for us express their concern and that of the company that unless we remain in the single market, Jaguar Land Rover, which produces 1.6 million cars a year, 57% of which are exported to the European Union, and its workers will face very serious consequences.
Sir William Cash:I am so glad to hear the hon. Gentleman standing up for his constituents so well, which I always admire and try to do myself. In my constituency, about 65% wanted to the leave the EU; the hon. Gentleman referred to Birmingham, where the vote was also to leave. I hope that he will have due regard to what his constituents have said, because they were in favour of coming out.
Let me deal with the assertion that there could somehow or other be a diminution in parliamentary accountability and parliamentary scrutiny. Of course there will be questions, debates, and Select Committees. We all know that a motion for a new Brexit Select Committee is before the House and that a new Chairman will be elected to it. On the idea that this Parliament will not scrutinise or hold the Government to account on all these matters, I do not have the slightest objection, and nor should anyone else, to the questions being put today or indeed on any other day. This is what Parliament is all about.
Some parts of Parliament do not like the outcome of the referendum, but the question itself and the vote to leave were emphatic. In my judgment, that should not be gainsaid by attempting to reverse the result. We all know who the usual suspects are, and I am not looking at one in particular. All I am saying is that there are people—loads of them on the Labour side—who cannot bring themselves to accept the result. [Interruption.] In that case, when the Labour Front-Bench team winds up the debate, I expect to hear a categorical and unequivocal assurance that under no circumstances will any Opposition Member vote against Second Reading or try to undermine the repeal Bill. It sounds to me as though the bottom line is that they will not give that assurance, but I shall be interested if they do.
This historic vote gave the people of this country the opportunity to make a massive decision, one of the biggest decisions taken for generations. We have a democratic sovereign Parliament, which decided to give the vote to the British people. The position is much simpler than it sounds. This was not about the shenanigans over whether Vote Leave misrepresented people, or whether Project Fear did so. This was a decision by the British people, and in my view they paid a great deal less regard to the campaigns than to their own judgment. The British people got it right, and it is our job to respect that.
Sir William Cash: Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is impossible for us to repeal the 1972 Act on the one hand, which is the endgame, and on the other to remain subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court within the single market? We trade into the single market, but we are not in the single market; that is the point.
Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House recognises that leaving the EU is the defining issue facing the UK; believes that there should be a full and transparent debate on the Government’s plan for leaving the EU; and calls on the Prime Minister to ensure that this House is able properly to scrutinise that plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked; and believes that the process should be undertaken in such a way that respects the decision of the people of the UK when they voted to leave the EU on 23 June and does not undermine the negotiating position of the Government as negotiations are entered into which will take place after Article 50 has been triggered.