Gazette & Herald Column: A good Brexit was never going to be plain sailing

It’s been a week of deep dives into Brexit legislation with hours of debates, dozens of votes and detailed discussions in public and private as we work to deliver the EU Referendum result in the way that maximises the opportunities for UK from current and new economic relationships.  Their Lordships have sent us dozens of amendments to be debated, and MPs from all sides of the House are thinking hard about what these mean. We have had a spate of disagreements, one resignation and a mass “toys oout of the pram” exodus by the SNP over an issue of devolved powers – something that has been in negotiations for a year and to which the Welsh government have already fully agreed.  Behind this excitement that has the commentators salivating are the sobering and vitally difficult negotiations to put in place the enabling legislation that will allow Brexit to happen in good order and empower the Prime Minister and her negotiating team to deliver the best deal for the country - something that some of the proposed amendments would seek to hinder.  I am a massive supporter of Parliamentary involvement and action in the withdrawal process, but the split of responsibility between the Government to set and negotiate international (and domestic) policy and Parliament to scrutinise it and approve or reject it is fundamental to our Constitution and will be retained. 

As I always said, this is a hugely complicated and detailed thing to deliver – the most complex set of tasks a peacetime Government has ever been asked to do, and given the narrowness of the result across the country and divergent views across Westminster it was never going to be smooth sailing.  I find it interesting that people dislike politicians debating this issue in public – we improve things by debating them! So far, the Government has won every vote, and I fully expect that to continue and I, like my party, trust our Prime Minister to deliver a good Brexit.  I won’t even dignify the Opposition’s hokey-cokey approach to Brexit by calling it a policy – they are all over the place and will continue to be so, effectively breaking their promise to the people they represent to support the Referendum result.

Finally, in a nice break from Brexit, it was a pleasure to welcome St Katharine’s School, Savernake to Westminster. The children enjoyed a tour of the Houses of Parliament, and it was great to answer all of their wonderful questions and try on one of their fantastic colourful hats!