Interesting that, today, there are simultaneous attacks on me in the Telegraph, the Sun and the Express, all about amendments I tabled weeks ago to a draft report by Liberal MEP Verhofstadt in the Constitutional Affairs committee of the European Parliament.
It’s clearly a concerted effort, especially as they all give the same distorted view of what I was trying to do, and for good measure throw in a quote by that well known stalwart of inaccuracy, Iain Duncan Smith, who recently referred to Mr Verhofstadt as “unelected” and refers to this report as “legislation”, which it isn’t.
For the record, let me state that my amendments sought to do two main things.
First, was to ensure legal accuracy (this is, after all, a report for the constitutional committee). The formal “decision” to leave the EU has to be taken by the British parliament, as confirmed by the High Court. Legally, the referendum did not take that decision as it was formally advisory.
Second, I assert that the EU should respect the will of the British people and “should not stand in the way of any reconsideration by the UK of its intended departure”. The EU should not – and anyway cannot – force Britain to reconsider, but it equally should not prevent any such reconsideration. If Britain did change its mind, they should respect that and not throw us out by claiming that Article 50 is irreversible.
Now, those who criticise me for this are effectively saying that even contemplating the possibility that Britain might change its mind is unacceptable. “Sabotage” says the Sun. “Betrayal” cries the Telegraph. “Sneaky wrecking tactics” says the Express.
Quite how amendments to an EP committee report looking at future options for Europe could somehow interfere with internal British procedures is, of course, not explained.
But it IS clearly an indication of how fearful the Brexit camp have become over the idea that people may demand their rights to reconsider.
They are alarmed that, as the cost of Brexit emerges, people who voted Leave might say, “hang on a minute, we were told this would save us money (which would go to the NHS), not cost us an arm and a leg”.
They are clearly in a panic!