LONDON — Labour’s chief Brexit spokesperson in the House of Lords has suggested that Labour will vote with the Conservative government on the Great Repeal Bill.
Baroness Hayter said on Monday that Labour has “certainly not said we will oppose” the bill, despite Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last month describing the legislation as “history” and hinting that he would instruct Labour parliamentarians to vote it down in a House of Commons vote.
“We will put forward a position in which we negotiate tariff-free access to the European market and legislate after that,” Corbyn said.
Speaking at an Institute for Government event in central London, Labour’s shadow Brexit spokesperson in the House of Lords Baroness Hayter said that the party will focus on “making sure the government does what it has promised” and ensure “no watering down”, rather than block the bill from passing altogether.
Last week Labour tabled an alternative Queen’s speech that was defeated by 323 votes to 297 in the Commons. The amendment opposed elements of the Great Repeal Bill and was centred on protecting worker’s rights after Brexit.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has previously refused to be drawn on whether the party would support the bill, saying that he would wait to study the legislation, which is still yet to be published.
The Great Repeal Bill was legislation announced by Prime Minister Theresa May at the Conservative Party in October that will see all EU law currently affecting UK law transposed into domestic law. Parliament will be asked to decide which laws out of hundreds upon hundreds it wants to keep and those it wants to scrap. The challenge facing parliament was described as the “largest ever legislative task” in an Institute For Government report.
Baroness Hayter added that “the Repeal Bill is putting into law what is already law,” and that the bigger issue will be “trying to get the government to have a much more sensible withdrawal.
“[The Repeal Bill] is only a quarter of what will happen… you’ve got the stack of however many [sic] primary legislation, you’ll have the withdrawal deal that we’ve been promised a vote on and then at some point you’ll have some treaties.”
The House of Lords shadow frontbench member also said that the Lords “will do the job that we do,” asking “nasty little questions” throughout the Brexit process and that it will be with the further Brexit bills where Labour “need to hold the government’s feet to the fire.”
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