The many wrongs of the Tories’ Brexit bill
J Cameron Smith (Letters, 13 September) is wrong to suggest EU legislation “entered our laws from the EU without parliament being involved”. The UK parliament agreed in the first place that sovereignty should be pooled in areas of competence where necessary action is best taken at the level of the EU. All proposals for legislation in those areas have to be scrutinised by the relevant committees of the Commons and the Lords.
The approach that the UK government proposes taking has to be cleared by those committees before a minister can agree a common position in the European council of ministers. Scrutiny committees can recommend that before the UK’s scrutiny reserve can be lifted a resolution on a particular legislative proposal should be debated on the floor of the house.
Those who object to the EU bill as presented to parliament should not be characterised as “remainers”. They have every right to challenge the bill’s provisions, which would allow ministers powers unprecedented in peacetime to amend existing legislation without effective parliamentary scrutiny. Michael Brown Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex • Caroline Flint (Forget trench warfare. We need to make the EU bill work, 13 September) wishes to smooth the path of a bill whose effect will be to make non-UK EU nationals living here jump through hoops to retain rights that should be theirs in perpetuity. Managed migration is a fine phrase, but its reality is humiliating, expensive forms and uncertainty about the future with your loved ones. Migration is not the cause of the decline in living standards and no wall, no matter how high, will make Ms Flint’s constituents better off. Who will she blame next? Labour should tell the truth about the causes of poverty and stop pandering to prejudice. In particular, there should be no cooperation of any kind with this government until the rights of people who have made their home in this country are unconditionally guaranteed. Martin Housden London • It shows one form of integrity for Caroline Flint to vote for the appalling EU bill – but there is more than one integrity game in town. The greater one is to vote against the bill for two honourable reasons: because it’s antidemocratic; and to fatally wound this authoritarian, incompetent government as a step towards Labour leading Brexit talks. Labour missed that boat by voting for article 50 in an equally naive, tunnelvisioned and unstrategic way. How long must we wait for a Labour party that places as much value on gaining power as do the Tories? But never mind – Caroline Flint keeps her integrity. Prof Saville Kushner Bristol • I am mystified as to how leaving the EU will be an opportunity for the government to improve the UK’s air quality standards all by itself (UN: Britain is flouting duty on pollution, 11 September). It is the EU that laid down the standards that the government failed to meet. Just seven months ago, you reported the EU’s final warning to the UK for “persistently contravening legal nitrogen dioxide levels” (Report, 15 February) and the imminence of court proceedings. Having been shamed into action, the government now tries to claim credit for what the EU has done and seeks the moral high ground of even tougher standards. Tony Robinson Frinton-on-Sea, Essex • There is one important piece of legislation that the government does not intend to transfer into UK law, namely article 13 of the treaty which recognises that non-human animals are sentient beings capable of suffering and experiencing pleasure, and must be reared and treated with this in mind. Why the government should have decided to reject this humane law is anyone’s guess. Sheelagh Graham Dumbarton • The Blair government’s choice not to invoke transitional arrangements when eastern Europe joined the EU in 2004 was taken with no prior public discussion. By contrast, months of debate in Austria, France, Germany and Italy led to the imposition of seven-year controls – largely because of pressure from trade unions and leftwing parties. Britain’s decision was greeted with astonishment in central Europe, and elsewhere. Dr John Doherty Vienna, Austria • While understanding the concerns of many who voted for Brexit with respect to the high level of immigration into the UK and the extra demands on public services that are made, would it not be possible for the EU to compensate by funding the building of extra hospitals, schools and nurseries? This would lead to people appreciating immigration as an asset that results in improved services and more job opportunities. Anthony Bleasdale Echenevex, France
How long must we wait for a Labour party that places as much value on gaining power as do the Tories? Saville Kushner