After winning a Conservative majority in the elections, the law was revised and reintroduced on 19 December, after being passed at second reading the following day. The revision of the law in December repealed the provisions adopted in previous versions of parliamentary control of the Brexit negotiations.  Some Members who do not like the WAB may decide to abstain in the hope that they can amend them and report them to committee and then make their final decision at third reading. We should have had a useful vote on the agreement itself and, of course, it would have had to go through a amendable proposal before a final agreement was ratified. The lack of control over trade agreements is a relic of a bygone era. Today, trade agreements cross every element of our lives, from the food we eat to our environmental and labour standards, to the protection of public services such as the NHS, but it is upsetting that Members have less say in trade agreements than much narrower policy initiatives. Finally, and not least, we should have had a full impact assessment that would be available for proper verification. So far, the government has completely failed in its duty to assess the effects of Brexit. In the amendment I tabled yesterday, I proposed an independent body to examine the impact of a new agreement on climate change, human rights and the economy. It seems to me a pity that this amendment has been rejected. But there will be strong opposition. A tight timetable is controversial because of the constitutional importance of waB, given that the withdrawal agreement gives a role to the European Court of Justice and that delegate powers should allow ministers to adopt areas such as the Northern Ireland Protocol. Apart from the context of a major national emergency or threat to national security, it is highly unusual for a major draft constitution to be introduced by the House of Commons in such a short period of time.
I would like to say a few more words about the withdrawal agreement which I fear should be adopted in the afternoon and I would like to summarize some of the reasons why I will vote against it. There is still this hatch to no agreement at the end of this year, and despite everything that has been said by the Government`s FrontBench, I do not understand why they remain so stubborn with this 11-month period – a totally arbitrary period – and say that this is the period in which they want to conclude a new trade agreement. Just yesterday, the President of the Commission said that this would not lead to a deep agreement that the Prime Minister seems to want, so it is very difficult to see how it is really in the best interests of the country. I am pleased that the bill is finally paving the way for the United Kingdom to establish a relationship with the European Union based on a free trade agreement. After almost three years of getting bogged down – and thus restoring the referendum result – this Parliament is free to take a big positive step forward. Once the law is passed, there is a horizon of opportunity ahead of us.