Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

‘How ironic’ Brexit Bill critic Lord Howard NEVER tolerated dissent as Tory leader says MP

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Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, made his remarks as the Lords voted to strip out key elements of the legislation after a lengthy debate in the Upper Chamber in a move which is unlikely to impress Boris Johnson with time rapidly running out to seal a trade deal with the EU. The Bill is highly controversial because it gives the Government powers to override certain aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU – and therefore, by the admission of Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, breaches international law.

He would never tolerate any deviation from Party Line is how I remember him

Daniel Kawczynski MP

During his speech in the Chamber prior to the vote, Lord Howard said it would be hard to criticise other countries for failing to stick to the rules of the UK did not.

However, Mr Kawczynski was unimpressed, telling Express.co.uk: “He would never tolerate any deviation from Party Line is how I remember him, so this is rather ironic.”

Mr Kawczynski, a long-term critic of the Lords added: “The Government must not cave in to the demands of these unelected and unaccountable Lords over an issue of such a monumental constitutional impact.

“The Commons has spoken and we acknowledge how essential the Internal Market Bill is to the sanctity of our new independence and sovereignty.”

Lord Howard said “nothing has changed” since Mr Lewis’s admission.

He said: “Since then, as far as I’m aware, no Government minister has sought to resile from his words.

“Instead, what minsters have done, both in your Lordships’ House and elsewhere, is to seek to make the case that circumstances make it expedient to break international law.

“Isn’t that what lawbreakers always say? Isn’t that the excuse of lawbreakers everywhere?

“What sort of a precedent is the Government setting when it admits that position?”

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Lord Howard added: “How can we reproach other countries – Russia, China, Iran – if their behaviour becomes reprehensible when we ourselves have such scant regard for the treaties we sign up to, when we ourselves set such a lamentable example?”

Highlighting suggestions that opposition to the Bill was fuelled by a lingering desire to thwart Brexit, he said: “That suggestion has a very dangerous implication for those who advance it.

“It implies that only those who voted for us to remain in the European Union care about the rule of law, or the importance of keeping one’s words, or the sanctity of international treaties.

“Fortunately, I am in a position which enables me confidently to contradict that implication. I voted and campaigned for Brexit and I do not for one moment regret or resile from that vote.

“But I want the independent sovereign state that I voted for to be a country which holds its head up high in the world, that keeps its word, that upholds the rule of law and that honours its treaty obligations.”

Mr Howard stressed: “I wanted to be an independent country which truly is a beacon unto the nations and I am dismayed that the Government, the Government which I have supported for so long and which I have very, very rarely disagreed with and rebelled against, that that Government has chosen as one of the first assertions of its newly-won sovereignty to break its word, to break international law and to renege on a treaty it signed barely a year ago.

“I hope your Lordships will at least give the Government the opportunity to think again by removing part five from the Bill.”

In the first of a string of divisions, the House of Lords voted against law breaking powers by 433 to 165, majority 268.

It was the third largest defeat in the upper chamber since 1999 and rebels included Lord Howard and Lord Clarke.

Peers went on to inflict a further defeat on the Government by 407 votes to 148, majority 259, stripping out a further contentious clause relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol. All the other controversial provisions were removed without votes.

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