This week in Parliament has seen the momentous Article 50 Bill being debated, and as a Minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, Robin Walker has been on the front bench in the Chamber playing an active part in seeing the Bill through the Commons.
On Wednesday evening, 498 MPs to 114 – a majority of 384, voted to approve the Government’s Article 50 Bill; a simple and short bill which will have a major and long term effect. It responds to the Supreme Court’s judgement that Parliament must legislate to begin the process of our withdrawal from the European Union and will give MPs of all parties the chance to respect the result of a referendum that Parliament voted for by a factor of six to one. The Bill will now progress to committee stage next week.
Robin’s colleague, Minister David Jones, gave the closing statement of the Bill:
“Let me be clear: what we are considering is the most straightforward possible Bill. A Bill which is necessary to implement the Referendum result and respect the judgment of the Supreme Court. It is positively not a vehicle for determining the terms of the broader negotiations that will follow.”
“This Bill follows one of the largest democratic exercises in this country’s history. As pointed out by many Honourable Members – an issue that has been central to political debate in this country for decades was finally put to the people of the United Kingdom; and the people made their decision.”
“We have heard repeatedly from Honourable Members on both sides of this debate and on both sides of the House that they fully respect and accept the Referendum’s outcome; and today is an opportunity for all of us to demonstrate that respect by supporting this small but important Bill.”
The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson MP said that “history has been made” and went on to say: “I’ve just voted three times in the House of Commons for an absolutely momentous thing – to give our Prime Minister the right to trigger Article 50 and Britain to begin the path out of the EU. Don’t forget we may be leaving the EU treaties but we are not leaving Europe.”
The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis MP said:
“The referendum result was not a vote to turn our back on Europe. It was a vote of confidence in the UK’s ability to succeed in the world and an expression of optimism that our best days are still to come. Whatever the outcome of our negotiations, we seek a more open, outward-looking, confident and fairer UK that works for everyone.”
Commentating on events Robin said:
“It is a real honour to be able to represent my country and my constituency at such a historic moment. I always supported a referendum to let the British people decide on the crucial matter of our membership of the EU, which has changed so much since we joined before I was born. MPs showed we have listened to the people and I am proud to be working as part of the Government to deliver on their mandate for a global Britain.”
Yesterday the Government published a White Paper with contains further detail ahead of the triggering of Article 50. The document is based around the 12 principles laid down by the Prime Minister in her Brexit speech last month, including exit from the single market and continued intelligence cooperation:
- Providing certainty and clarity
- Taking control of our own laws
- Strengthening the Union
- Protecting our strong historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area
- Controlling immigration: the United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union
- Securing rights for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU
- Protecting workers’ rights
- Ensuring free trade with European markets
- Securing new trade agreements with other countries;
- Ensuring the United Kingdom remains the best place for science and innovation
- Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism
- Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU.
The White Paper will provide further clarity for MPs when they discuss the Bill in more detail next week when it reaches the committee stage in the Commons.
The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis MP, gave a statement to the House regarding the White Paper yesterday afternoon and took questions from MPs. In his Commons statement, he said the government’s white paper on the UK’s exit from the European Union confirms the prime minister’s ambition of “a truly global UK” and an ambitious relationship with the EU.
Notes to Editors:
For details regarding the Article 50 Bill:
To read more of the parliamentary debate:
To read details of the White Paper:
To read more about the work of the Department for Exiting the EU:
To read Robin’s previous press releases on the referendum:
For Robin’s speech on the need for an EU referendum in 2011 see: