Rebellion isn’t something which comes easily to me, but the situation where this country could leave the EU without there being an opportunity for Parliament to vote on the agreement – or, indeed, to go ahead without any deal – was something which would arguably have risked erasing 300 years of parliamentary democracy, if this was unchallenged.
The House of Lords acts as a revising chamber for legislation which starts out in the House of Commons. It is a job which we ask them to do. If this did not happen, again it would risk a challenge to the way that our parliamentary legislation goes through a process of rigorous scrutiny.
We have to be respectful of the decision made by the electorate in voting in the referendum. As parliamentarians, though, we need to put proposed legislation through a test and consider what could happen in the event of various outcomes. It would not be responsible to do otherwise. Equally, and again by referring to the way that our parliamentary democracy has developed through the centuries, we must recognise that power is vested in Parliament, rather than being the sole prerogative of the Executive, or government.
This requires compromises to be made. A febrile atmosphere can distract from the process of discussing all the alternatives to be weighed. It is not a simplistic situation of “if your answer is not yes, then it must be no”.
The final deal between the UK and the EU will be put to a vote in the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it can enter into force. Parliament will have a full opportunity to have its say on the final agreement. If no agreement can be reached, then Parliament will have the chance to vote on the proposed next steps.
This article first appeared in the Bucks Free Press on 13th July 2018.