The Lords European Union Committee has written to Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, urging him to engage with Committees in order to facilitate scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement and political statement on the future UK-EU relationship.
- 23 October 2018 – Letter to Rt Hon. Dominic Raab MP ref Scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement ( PDF 87 KB)
- Scrutiny of the Brexit negotiations
- European Union Committee
Lord Boswell, Chair of the Committee, reacted with anger to Raab’s refusal to engage and to behave in a democratically accountable manner. In a letter, he told the Brexit secretary his behaviour was ‘unacceptable.’
The former Conservative MP said: “Select committees have a job to do. Lack of engagement from the government, keeping us in the dark, means we can’t do that job.
He also said “Brexit was supposed to be about enhancing the role of parliament, not diminishing it – but that message doesn’t seem to have got through to ministers.”
The Committee wrote the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on 5 September 2018 inviting him to appear before the Committee as soon as possible after the October European Council, after the Secretary of State gave a Commitment in a letter of the 17 July “to give evidence on a regular basis”.
The Committee was told on Tuesday 23 October that the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU will be unable to attend or give evidence to the Committee until after a deal with the EU has been finalised. The Committee describes this as “unacceptable… [it] inhibits the Committee in fulfilling its obligations in scrutinising the progress of Brexit negotiations”.
The Committee’s letter also called on the Government to ensure that enough time is allowed between an agreement being reached and any ‘Meaningful Vote,’ so that committees can make recommendations to the two Houses. Recent reports suggest that the time allowed for committees to report on the agreement and the ‘political declaration’ on future UK-EU relations could be a little as ten days.
The letter goes on to say “… it is imperative that both Houses—and the wider public—are able to have an informed debate. This means, among other things, that the Committees of both Houses with responsibility for scrutinising the Brexit negotiations must have an opportunity to report on the text of any agreement ahead of the ‘Meaningful Vote’—in the same way as the AFCO Committee of the European Parliament will have an opportunity to report ahead of any vote in that Parliament.
“We therefore seek your assurance that the Government will allow time for effective
Committee scrutiny of any agreement, ahead of the ‘Meaningful Vote’; and we ask you to setout your plans for engaging with Committees in order to facilitate this scrutiny.”
The Committee requested that Raab make an appearance before the end of November, saying his refusal “flies in the face of the commitment in your letter of 17 July, ‘to give evidence on a regular basis’.”
The Brexit department have been contacted for a comment.
A little about Dominic Raab
Raab lies on the swivel eyed end of the right wing continuum. In 2017, he was branded “offensive” by then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron after saying “the typical user of a food bank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cash flow problem”. The Office For National Statistics also took issue with Raab’s claims that immigration has caused house prices to rise, demanding that he present data to back up such assertions. A document published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows that the finding was based on an out-of-date model that had never been intended for this kind of analysis.
Theresa May herself has previously spoken out against Rabb’s controversial remarks, scorning his categorization of feminists as ‘obnoxious bigots’. In an article in January 2011 on the Politics Homewebsite, Raab argued in favour of transferable paternity leave and against “the equality bandwagon” “pitting men and women against each other”. He argued in favour of a ‘consistent approach’ to sexism against men and women commenting that some feminists were “now amongst the most obnoxious bigots” and it was sexist to blame men for the recession.
He believes that the welfare state should be further reduced and his opposition to human rights and equalities is unremittingly and dangerously authoritarian.
Raab’s opinions reflect contempt for international human rights frameworks in particular. The EU Charter of rights has not been included in the Withdrawal Bill.
Writing in the Daily Mail on prisoners votes back in 2013, Raab said: “The problem today is that the Strasbourg Court is packed with academics and politically motivated lawyers desperate to foist their ‘progressive’ agenda on the rest of Europe. The Strasbourg judges have long since given up merely interpreting the European Convention – their proper job – and are jealously usurping the power of elected lawmakers in sovereign states to create new law, inventing novel rights along the way.”
And “The Human Rights Act [UK] is bad enough. But, at least it states plainly that our courts only have to ‘take into account’ Strasbourg case-law, rather than slavishly bow to it. Yesterday, the Supreme Court shifted the goal posts, ruling that British courts must comply with Strasbourg rulings unless it involves ‘some truly fundamental principle’, or an ‘egregious oversight or misunderstanding’ of UK law.”
He also said “The wretched Human Rights Act should be replaced with a British Bill of Rights, to insulate us from the judicial onslaught from Strasbourg. And when we renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the European Union, we must shield our democracy from their ambition to impose yet another layer of European human rights law on the long-suffering British public.”
He seems to have completely missed the point of human rights. And scarily, he fails to make the connection between civil rights and democracy.
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