Three bullsh*t stories about the Brexit Bill

No, it does not mean the end of Erasmus, workers’ rights or protections for child refugees.


Topics Brexit Politics UK

After years of parliamentary warfare over Brexit, MPs have now passed the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill and thus implemented the government’s Brexit deal into British domestic law. Now that the government has a comfortable majority, it is able comfortably to pass legislation – and also comfortably defeat opposition amendments.

But that simple fact seems to have been lost on Britain’s perennially hysterical Remoaners. For them, this week’s events in parliament are ‘proof’ of a ‘hard right’ government that intends to end student exchanges, smash workers’ rights and abandon child refugees.

One amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, tabled by the Liberal Democrats, would have required the government to seek full membership of the EU’s student-exchange programme, Erasmus+. The amendment was defeated by 344 votes to 254.

Remoaner academics and politicians took to Twitter to vent their outrage at the ‘end’ of Erasmus. Some seemed to believe that Brexit would end all foreign travel. ‘You’re stuck on the island!’, tweeted a Lib Dem MEP.

In reality, the government wants to renew its commitment to Erasmus+ post-Brexit and its successor programme, which starts in 2021. The government simply does not want its hands tied in the negotiations by rebel amendments. What’s more, the current Erasmus+ scheme has 33 participating countries, including non-EU countries like Turkey and Macedonia.

Similar outrage followed the defeat of an amendment on the protection of child refugees.

The move was denounced as ‘inhumane’. But again, the government does not want its hands tied by unnecessary additional amendments. The Tories deserve criticism for their failure to meet previous legal obligations on child refugees – resettling just 300 rather than 3,000 in recent years. Quite how this situation would be improved by adding new obligations to a free-trade negotiation is anybody’s guess.

Finally, workers’ rights are apparently set to be thrown on the bonfire by the bill.

But the long-mooted threat to workers’ rights posed by Brexit is one of the most ridiculous Remoaner talking points of all.

Workers’ rights in Britain (and other European countries) are a product of domestic laws that have arisen from the struggles of workers themselves. The minimum standards that the EU has so benevolently handed down to us pale in comparison to those nationally established rights. There is no EU law mandating sick pay and no EU-wide minimum wage, for instance. In fact, as labour historian Mary Davis argues, the EU has actually undermined workers’ rights and collective bargaining.

Forget the howls of outrage from Remoaners – the good news is that Brexit is happening.

Picture by: Lucas Lemos, published under a creative-commons licence.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Myra Byanka

13th January 2020 at 2:24 pm

Questions from a Yank interested in Brexit. What agreements were reached regarding trade and the EU? Is unilateral trade, say with the U.S., allowed? The detention center stuff above is nonsense. Will EU people be granted UK citizenship, or what? Since you originally voted for Brexit, what forces came into play to overturn your vote – Labour, a guess – and who else? Is Labour sort of “woke” Marxist progressive like in the states? Democrat progressives here have increasingly abandoned working people, part of why Trump won, in favor of becoming gender-bender Olympians trying to bring down evil capitalism.

Snake Oil Pussy

14th January 2020 at 7:19 pm

Myra Byanka,

“What agreements were reached regarding trade and the EU?” None yet – that’s for the next phase of negotiations, due to be completed by the end of this year.

“Is unilateral trade, say with the U.S., allowed?” No. We could unilaterally allow any imports from anywhere, tariff and quota free, but would have to treat all countries equally under WTO rules.

“Will EU people be granted UK citizenship, or what?”
They are being offered “settled status”, for which they have to apply by mid 2021. Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis has said that for those who fail to apply in time or have their applications turned down, immigration enforcement procedures will apply, and these can include detention and deportation. The “hundreds of thousands” comes from the fact that there millions of EU citizens here (we don’t know the exact number because they were never required to register on arrival), and no attempt to change the immigration status of a very large group of people by requiring them to take an active step has achieved a compliance rate as high as 90%. So it is expected that “hundreds of thousands” will not have complied by the deadline. Of course they can’t all be removed at once, and there are only a few thousand places in detention centres used for immigration control, though regular prisons can be used if these become full. So what will happen is that they get found out over the following years, as and when they try to get a new job, move home, open a bank account, need medical treatment, all of which require immigration status checks to be carried out on anyone who appears to be of foreign origin.

” Since you originally voted for Brexit, what forces came into play to overturn your vote – Labour, a guess – and who else?”
The vote has not been “overturned”. Brexit has been delayed because the government couldn’t agree among itself what sort of Brexit it wanted, and so the first attempt at a deal was defeated in parliament by factions within the government voting along with the opposition parties.

“Is Labour sort of “woke” Marxist progressive like in the states?”. Not exactly, under its current leadership it more like a sixth-form Marxist outfit with an uncosted maximalist programme promising more of everything to everyone with no thought as to how the wealth is going to be produced. It is not wholly pro-EU, in fact it couldn’t carry out parts of its programme under EU rules. It has been more “woke” and more pro-immigrant and pro-EU, at other points in its history when it has been more right wing economically.

Snake Oil Pussy

11th January 2020 at 6:42 pm

“The government simply does not want its hands tied in the negotiations by rebel amendments.” The same excuse was used during the passage of the Article 50 trigger bill, to justify voting down amendments designed to protect the rights of EU citizens.
Now that phase of the negotiations has long since been concluded, this excuse won’t wash any more. But still they voted down amendments to ensure that all EU citizens lawfully resident here have the automatic right to remoan, er, sorry I meant remain.
This IS a hard right government that has been unrelentingly cruel to immigrants ever since the day Theresa May was appointed as Home Secretary. And now hundreds of thousands EU citizens will be liable to be imprisoned in detention centres and removed from the country.

Michael Lynch

10th January 2020 at 10:25 pm

Looks like the left leaning media have lost interest already. Only found out by accident that the Brexit Bill passed the second, and final, reading today by a fair majority. Particularly the BBC who seem intent on concentrating on the Labour leadership contest and the usual finger wagging at the POTUS. As someone put it in another post, they are practicing Jurassic journalism. Question Time was a complete charade last night and I honestly thought it had been prerecorded as Clive Lewis still seemed to be fighting the General Election! It’s bizarre.

Ian Wilson

11th January 2020 at 6:09 am

You are right, passing the bill was a throwaway headline. Hopefully, this means they’ll just leave there government to get on with it.

Marvin Jones

15th January 2020 at 11:17 am

It was another one of the BBC’s repeats you were watching Michael.

anna livia fleischschleifer

10th January 2020 at 5:12 pm

“child refugees – resettling just 300”

How many of that “300” were actual children among the bearded wonders? Home Office tarpaulined up the whole operation in haste, soon after the first images emerged.
In countries where they did carry out age tests, it surmised that on average 80% of those claiming to be “minors” are anything but.

Marvin Jones

15th January 2020 at 11:22 am

Don’t you just love this country’s cowardly and white flag reaction to any and all migrants. Fill the country up with asylum seekers and illegal migrants, hand out unlimited British passports to all, and there you have it, family and relatives of every migrant on the planet heading for England.

James Knight

10th January 2020 at 4:43 pm

Ironic given that Johnson just previously announced an inflation busting increase in the living wage. Is that part of the “assault” from a far right government that the terminally deluded Owen Jones wants to fight.

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