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Brexit Facts4EU.Org is cited in the House of Lords, by Baroness Fox
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The noble Baroness stands up for Brexit in ‘Rejoiner HQ’, as Peers try to silence her
On Monday last week a debate took place in the House of Lords on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. Facing up to the combined Rejoiner ranks of their Lordships was one Baroness Fox of Buckley, who gave a defiant speech.
After seven years, Brexit Facts4EU.Org has finally made it into Hansard, the official written record of the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament. Below we share her speech, together with a video of it.
Claire Fox is one of many Peers and MPs who read our research on a regular basis
For years our research has been used by MPs and Peers, but as far as we know this is the first time we have actually been cited in a Parliamentary debate. The report she refers to can be read here. It is the final report in a five-part series we published regarding the Retained EU Laws (REUL) Bill.
Baroness Claire Fox of Buckley, speaking in the Lords
“The invaluable research organisation Facts4EU.Org, which keeps track of this - it seems almost ahead of the official tracker - has noted that four substantial agencies, including the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, have only just started reporting, so you know that the number will just go up and up.
“The sheer mind-boggling numbers and scale indicate how much of our sovereignty, as the UK, was undermined by the many laws and regulations not made in the UK and accountable to the British public.”
- Monday 15 May 2023
The video, the text, and exclusive comments from Baroness Fox to Facts4EU.Org and CIBUK.Org
Before watching the video, it should be noted that Baroness Fox had previously been stopped from speaking using a minor procedural excuse. She had no idea if she would actually be allowed to speak and therefore her eventual speech must be seen in this context.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary
Below is the full text of Baroness Fox’s speech
"My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, is certainly correct that no legislation was forced on the UK by the EU. Indeed, many Ministers from all parties were happy to take advantage of laws made in Brussels, which they sometimes even suggested, by coming back to the UK and reading out the legal text from the EU Commission—and then, if there was any objection, they blamed the EU. But what was removed from that equation was the scrutiny and accountability of the electorate. They were the people who were told that they could not change the law; it was ring-fenced away from them. That is what voters rejected in 2016.
"I will be clear on what this Bill is all about by quoting the European Commission, because I know that so many noble Lords trust it and not me. In October 2021 the EU Commission stated, in relation to a dispute with Poland:
"EU law has primacy over national law, including constitutional provisions … All rulings by the European Court of Justice are binding on all Member States’ authorities, including national courts”.
"That is no longer the case for the UK, and we are now trying to untangle how we deal with that.
"In relation to the Bill, it is, in my opinion, not the case that Brexit was an act of reclaiming sovereignty, a blueprint for saying exactly what laws we would keep or retain, or a means of just getting rid of EU law as an end in itself, as it were. Rather, it was about putting the responsibility for choosing which laws to prioritise, reform or even improve in the hands of the Government and Parliament, who are answerable to the British people—the electorate. I have listened carefully to a lot of the very thoughtful amendments put forward to try to ensure that too much power is not put in the hands of the Executive or Whitehall, as opposed to an accountable Parliament, but I get anxious about how the arguments are posed sometimes, so I will query some of the amendments in this group.
"I really appreciated when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, emphasised that he was trying to find a solution that is as quick and simple as possible. I worry that the removal of the sunset clause, as we have previously discussed, might mean a loss of a sense of urgency in our task. It is our obligation to rejuvenate and improve laws now that we are in charge of them. The idea outside this House that things have been rushed through is unconvincing. This process should have started when the electorate voted in 2016 and instructed parliamentarians to get on with it, but it did not, and so it has dragged on. Sometimes I think that, when people say this has been rushed through, they neglect to mention that that is because we did not do anything for so many years, and therefore there is now a sense of urgency. I mention this because I am concerned that some of the attempts, even by the Government, to remove the sunset clause, in the way that has been discussed previously, will breed cynicism and a distrust in the electorate about the breaking of promises and the possibility that this is just a delaying tactic. So I am very pleased to hear the noble Lords who put forward the amendments being aware of the time issue.
"It seems to me that the sheer number of EU laws and regulations grows daily. Every time I look, it has gone up by another thousand or so. The invaluable research organisation Facts4EU.Org, which keeps track of this—it seems almost ahead of the official tracker—has noted that four substantial agencies, including the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, have only just started reporting, so you know that the number will just go up and up. The sheer mind-boggling numbers and scale indicate how much of our sovereignty, as the UK, was undermined by the many laws and regulations not made in the UK and accountable to the British public.
"I was very struck by the question that the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, asked: where will it all end? That was a very good question. One feels that, if the Government or those putting forward the amendments had a sense of real urgency, they would count the laws and say that there is a definitive time by which we will have said, absolutely, which laws came from the EU. That would be helpful and at least give a sense that, now we do not have the cliff edge to fall off and all the unintended consequences, this was being taken seriously.
"The only other thing that I want to mention is that I fear that one of the consequences of the fact that so much law was not made and so many policies were not designed directly by UK legislators and politicians is that, possibly, we have lost the art of lawmaking because, as it were, we outsourced it elsewhere. I am concerned, therefore, that we get on with the job of improving legislative processes.
"As mentioned earlier, I am no fan of SIs and delegated powers and giving too much power to the Executive, but I do not necessarily want to use this Bill to try to resolve all those problems. I would like to see them being resolved, but I am concerned that the solutions being proposed being put forward at the moment actually involve even more delegation of powers. Even the Joint Committees of Parliament are not entirely open to improved lawmaking, it seems to me, and I want some assurances from those who propose that as the remedy that they will not become—dare I mention it—an extension of the “blob” or some of the prejudices in this House.
"I noticed earlier, for example, when the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, was speaking, that there was a huge amount of grumbling and complaint and so on. I actually made a mess of the rules by trying to stand up and defend someone earlier by, I thought, asking a question, then being stopped from speaking, because I felt that it was unfair that somebody was being accused of making a Second Reading speech when it was not Second Reading, and I was trying to explain why—blah, blah, blah. The reason why I am saying that is because this House is not necessarily representative of the electorate of this country.
"Indeed, so that is true. For once noble Lords are agreeing with me: this House is not representative of the feelings of the British public. Therefore, the Joint Committees of Parliament, which include many from this House, who are hostile to what the British public voted to do in the past. I am simply asking whether that is the solution to resolving the problems that we face in terms of our disentanglement from the European Union’s lawmaking."
[Source : Hansard, 15 May 2023.]
Commenting exclusively to Facts4EU.Org and CIBUK.Org, the Baroness said :-
"There is a new trend in the House of Lords – everyone starts contributions on any debate on the economy/ immigration / the NI protocol with the phrase 'This is not about Brexit. We accept that has happened and we need to get on with it'.
"But for those who may count this as a victory, it takes very little time before the jibes start, misinformation in terms of stats and details are casually thrown in to every contribution, and the general message is 'we wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for Brexit. It was a huge mistake'.
"Of course for Brexiteers, it can be tiresome to have to go over old ground, to keep repeating the arguments, to have to – as Facts4EU do so well - crunch the numbers and ensure the real facts are known.
"What I try and do in response is to capture what the SPIRIT OF BREXIT meant to people – still does – in terms of democracy and sovereignty. It’s with wry irony that one platform I use is the unelected House of Lords. But what’s clear is that too many UK politicians ACROSS ALL PARTIES, elected or appointed, are just as keen as any Brussels bureaucrats to ring-fence off decision-making and debate from the electorate. Making that transparent and holding them to account is essential if we are to realise any Brexit gains in the future."
This is a vindication for all readers who have read and supported us over the years
Judging from our postbag and from comments posted below our reports, there is an increasing proportion of the population who feel disenfranchised. We regularly receive emails and messages from people saying they feel ‘politically homeless’.
In our view this is a dangerous trend. In any democracy it’s essential for people to feel that their voices are being heard. Furthermore, they must see that the majority view is being translated into action by the Government.
Unfortunately – if our readers from right across the country are in any way representative – this is simply not happening.
We are grateful to Baroness Fox for two things. Firstly, she has consistently fought hard in the Rejoiner cauldron that is the House of Lords on behalf of ordinary voters. Secondly, we appreciate the ‘name-check’ she gave to us. Perhaps if some of her fellow Peers actually bothered to read our work as she does, they might not make some of the (frankly) misinformed and misguided speeches that they do.
As the revising chamber, the House of Lords matters. It is completely dominated by Peers who are anti-Brexit. This slows up any attempts at new legislation to free up the United Kingdom to use its new-found freedoms outside the European Union.
Thank goodness for voices from the likes of Claire Fox, Kate Hoey, David Frost and a few others.
We must get reports like this out there
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[ Sources: Baroness Fox of Buckley | The Academy of Ideas ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org, May 2023
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