Labour rebels defend decision to support government Bill
TWO Labour MPs who voted for the government’s Brexit Bill told the Star yesterday that they stuck to their principles in doing so because the European Union has always been undemocratic.
A total of seven MPs defied the Labour whip and voted for the Bill to receive a second reading. They were Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner and Graham Stringer.
Mr Skinner told the Star that when he entered Parliament in 1970 he had voted against Britain joining what was then known as the Common Market — the former European Economic Community (EEC) — under Edward Heath’s Tory government.
He asked: “So what is new? I have carried the same torch for 47 years. It is not about immigration but because the EU is undemocratic.
“I have had scores of people emailing me since I cast my vote thanking me for standing my ground, and these are people that I don’t know but they know it’s all about principle.
“When you act on principle, you shouldn’t be subject to attacks by people who waft in the wind.”
Those he was referring to included Tony Blair biographer John Rentoul, who suggested that Mr Skinner and other Labour MPs who voted for the Bill should “go join the Tories.”
More than 70 per cent of Mr Skinner’s Bolsover constituents voted to leave in last year’s referendum.
Mr Campbell reinforced Mr Skinner’s stance on the bloc’s undemocratic nature, adding that a mark of democracy is the ability to sack political representatives.
He accused Remainers of having “glossed over” concerns about the huge debts accrued by Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and noted that the Common Agricultural Policy has made up more than 50 per cent of EU expenditure every year since 1991.
However, he said he was not in favour of the socalled Norway model — of having access to the single market without being an EU member — because Britain would pay into the EU budget and “abide by its laws without having a seat at the table.”
“It’s either in or completely out,” he explained.
MPs gave the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill a second reading by 326 votes to 290, a majority of 36.
The Bill repeals the 1972 Act that took Britain into the EEC and provides powers to incorporate relevant EU rules and regulations into domestic law.