EU Update
EU Update

This update was sent to constituents on 25th July 2019:

With the Parliamentary recess approaching and a new Prime Minister in No.10 I thought this a good opportunity to update you on where we are with Brexit. This is the 32nd update I have provided and if you have recently emailed me on Boris Johnson or Brexit more generally please accept this update as a response. If you have emailed me in the last few days on voting to prevent a no deal, backing People’s Vote, or opposing the new PM, please use this as your response.

I will always vote to prevent a no deal. I am a founding member of the People’s Vote campaign and helped set it up, and I will oppose Boris Johnson at every turn. I have done so in the House of Commons already.

Burt/Benn Amendment

Last week former minister Alistair Burt and my Labour colleague Hilary Benn tabled an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Functions) Bill to prevent any Prime Minister proroguing (suspending) Parliament to ram through a no-deal Brexit.

The amendment essentially built upon an amendment the previous week by Dominic Grieve which required a Minister to update the Commons every two weeks on progress on getting the devolved institutions in Stormont up and running.  However, as there was some debate about whether the Government could do this via a written update (in the event of prorogation) the Burt/Benn amendment specifies that if ministers cannot meet the obligation to update the Commons because it is prorogued or adjourned, parliament must meet on the day necessary to comply with the obligation, and for the following five weekdays.

The amendment passed by 315 to 274 with several serving Cabinet Ministers, including the then Chancellor Philip Hammond abstaining.

Legal Case

To reinforce this win in Parliament I have been working with colleagues from different parties to sue for a court guarantee that the Prime Minister cannot close down Parliament in the run up to October 31.

Our group includes MPs from Scottish Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and a number of independent and Green parliamentarians. It also includes Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project, which is backing the action.

The action will be brought before the Court of Session – which sits through August – and is for a ‘declarator’ that the Prime Minister cannot lawfully advise the Queen to suspend Parliament. We will use the Wightman precedent – the case that established the UK can revoke Article 50 – and say the Court should state the law in advance of the Queen being asked to suspend Parliament.

The Petitioners will be represented by the same team as brought the successful Wightman action with Elaine Motion of Balfour+Manson instructing a Counsel team headed by Aidan O’Neill QC and assisted by Professor Kenneth Armstrong.

We hope to have the Court of Session’s decision before Parliament returns from its summer break.

The case will be crowdfunded to cover the costs of the action. You can see the crowdfunder here.

Taking back control surely didn’t mean shutting down Parliament. Boris Johnson’s dangerous and reckless proposal to shut parliament down is undemocratic and simply cannot go unchallenged.

The future of the country is at stake, and working together across parties in the best interests of the people of the entire UK has never been more important.

Brexit Letter to Constituents

This month Daniel Johnson and I sent a letter to some constituents reiterating our long standing support for a public vote with the option to remain in the EU. If you did not receive the letter you can read it here.

The letter also highlights:

  • 5% of all jobs in Edinburgh are filled by workers from EU countries.
  • The University of Edinburgh received over £40million in EU research funding in 2017/18.
  • The international financial services industry provides £5billion in gross value added to Edinburgh’s economy and employs 50,000 people.

We both know it is in Scotland’s and Edinburgh’s interests to work together across nations to solve the pressing issues of the day. You don’t solve problems by creating borders, but by building bridges. That is the view of people in South Edinburgh, clear from two referenda, and it is the view we will fight to represent – Scotland in the UK and the UK in the EU.

Boris Article / Different PM same parliamentary arithmetic

Lastly, I thought I would offer some thoughts on our new Prime Minister and what we can expect in the coming weeks and months.

Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister, but he inherits Theresa May’s central dilemma that there is no parliamentary majority for a no deal or a rehashed withdrawal deal which drags us out of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

Our efforts to stop the proroguing of Parliament will mean Johnson has to get his Brexit policy through parliament. The only Brexit policy which looks like it could carry a majority in the House of Commons is a confirmatory vote on a withdrawal agreement. I will continue to work with colleagues from all parties to achieve this.

You can read more via my Scotsman article here.

I also wrote for the Edinburgh Evening News today and you can read that article here.

I have also attached a list of statements the new Prime Minister has previously made to expose his hypocrisy on Brexit.

I will, as always, keep you updated but Parliament will go into recess now until 2 September for the summer. We shall see what transpires over that period with the PMs promise to renegotiate with the EU.

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