MP Dan Poulter warns amendments to the Brexit bill would be ‘political point scoring’
PUBLISHED: 14:34 04 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 04 September 2017
A Suffolk MP has warned that tabling amendments during this week’s Brexit bill debate would be akin to thwarting the “will of the people”.
Conservative Dr Dan Poulter – who campaigned to remain in the European Union – said any bid to alter the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill at this stage would be nothing more than “political point scoring”.
Theresa May has warned some Remain-backing MPs that attempts to soften the Brexit bill will be seen as supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn but Dr Poulter says he has not been contacted by party whips.
“I have not spoken to the whips office about the second reading of the bill,” he said. “And to be honest I think tabling amendments at this early stage would be about scoring political points rather than adding to the debate.
“I have been assured that the correct amount of time will be given to this bill at committee stage and beyond – that is when we must look at it in more depth. This second reading will give us the opportunity to debate for two days – but amendments now will be about naked political ambition.
“I don’t think any colleague will, but we must not look to thwart the bill’s progress.”
The second reading of a bill as its passes through the House of Commons offers an opportunity to debate the main principle of the proposals. Large scale amendments are more common at the committee and report stages. Bills then move on to a third reading and final vote.
The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP added: “The most important aspect is to uphold the will of the people of Suffolk who voted to leave the EU. I was a firm Remainer but that is not the way the people voted.
“Alongside the negotiations that are ongoing, Parliament’s job will be to scrutinise exactly how we leave the EU and what will happen when we do. But people must know that we are leaving. The time to shape how we leave through any amendments is not this week.”
One Tory Remainer, former minister Anna Soubry, said that although she believes no Tories will vote against the bill at second reading Government whips were being aggressive. She said: “This bullish attitude that if you don’t fall into line and get behind something you’re going to be thwarting the will of the people ... has got to stop.”