HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has defended his decision to vote for a bill that “breaks” international law.
Mr Halfon said: “At the general election, I promised to the residents of Harlow and the villages that I would do everything possible to get Brexit done. I kept that promise by voting for the Withdrawal Agreement in January. At every step of the way, the Labour party have voted to stop Brexit from being delivered. At the election, they even demanded a second referendum. I believe that the residents of Harlow and the villages made clear in the 2016 referendum, and in the 2019 General Election, that they wanted the UK to regain control over our laws, borders, money and fisheries.
I’m glad to say that we left the EU on 31 January 2020. Once having left, stage 2 was forming a free trade agreement with the EU – as they have done with other countries like Australia and Canada. The Withdrawal Agreement stated that:
“The Union and the United Kingdom shall, in full mutual respect and good faith, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from this Agreement.”
and that the negotiations for a free trade agreement would:
“end on 31 December 2020.”
However, the Prime Minister believes that far from acting in good faith, the EU have been making it near impossible to take back control of our laws, borders, money and fisheries. The Prime Minister said in the House of Commons yesterday that the EU:
“is determined to interpret the protocol in absurd ways”
“fails to negotiate in good faith”.
The EU does not want the UK to control our fisheries, for example. The UK’s Chief Negotiator has said that:
“‘The EU still insists we change our positions on state aid and fisheries”
to accommodate their interests, despite the fact that the British people voted for the UK to control our own fishing waters. The EU wants to create a border in the Irish Sea, in that there would be trade tariffs on goods coming from one part of the UK, Northern Ireland, to another part, Great Britain. This would threaten the integrity of the UK and pose a serious threat to the Good Friday Agreement. This is the reason the Government introduced the UK Internal Market Bill.
First, the Bill sets out what will happen if the UK does not reach a free trade agreement.
Second, it protects the NHS, our waters and the rights of the 1 million Brits living in the EU, with specific schedules for these areas. As the Chancellor the Duchy of Lancaster said in the House of Commons:
“The Bill and the schedule are clear that water is excluded from the provisions of the Bill. He talked about the threat to the NHS, a UK institution, but if we look at the schedule to the Bill, we see that healthcare services are excluded.”
Third, the Bill establishes a mechanism to protect the integrity of the UK and NI, in the event – and only in the event – that no free trade agreement is reached.
There is a lot being said on international law. The passing of the Bill itself does not break international law as the Attorney General set out in her legal position:
“Parliament is sovereign as a matter of domestic law and can pass legislation which is in breach of the UK’s Treaty obligations. Parliament would not be acting unconstitutionally in enacting such legislation.”
Consistently, throughout negotiations, we have seen reluctance on the part of the EU to reach an agreement with the UK; in other words, the EU, has not has not acted in “good faith”. By doing so, the EU is breaching the Withdrawal Agreement. No wonder questions are being asked whether the EU is breaking international law by not abiding by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The whole purpose of the UK leaving the EU was to take back control and restore Parliamentary sovereignty so that we have the right to make decisions on our laws, our policies and our relationships with other countries.
At every step of the way, the establishment, the Labour party and arch-remainers have tried to stop that and stop the Government delivering on the will of the 68% of Harlow residents, and the majority of the country, who voted to leave.
Ultimately, it is our duty to get Brexit done and to take back control. This Bill is only an insurance policy to be used in the event that no deal is reached. I will not let the people of Harlow and the villages down and I will stand by my promise to deliver Brexit and take back control of our laws, borders, money and fisheries.
For more information, I include a letter that I have received from the Prime Minister about this Bill.
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