The government’s Brexit wrangling continues after the House of Lords backed more amendments to the withdrawal bill.
They’ve now defeated Theresa May on 14 areas over Brexit, and the bill is likely to return to Commons where MPs will vote on amendments concerning the UK’s relationship with the customs union and the European Economic Area (EEA).
The amendments focus on the UK’s trading relationship with the EU after Brexit.
Now Iain Duncan Smith, a proponent of a ‘hard Brexit’, has said that the continued back-and-forth with the Lords is “peculiar in the extreme”.
“It’s almost like they’re trying to rewrite the whole bill which they’ve never had a mandate to do being unelected,” he said.
Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on the breakfast show this morning, he said that it should never have been called into question whether the UK would remain part of the trading bloc.
“Leaving the single market was part of the whole debate in the referendum and it’s been agreed by the government."
But Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign - which is calling for the public to vote on the final Brexit deal - disagreed, saying the government did not make it clear at the time of the referendum.
“What was sold at the time of the referendum is not what’s being offered now,” he said.
“We were certainly not told it would involve leaving the single market and the customs union. Did the ballot paper have leaving the single market and the customs union on it?
“We need to look at what’s right for jobs and businesses, and analysis shows that leaving the single market and the customs union is going to harm our economy.”
Duncan Smith said the claims of a crash, which have been dubbed ‘project fear’ by Leavers, had been disproved by economic growth since the Leave vote.
“The Remain campaign said if we voted to leave there’d be an immediate crash, we’d lose 500,000 jobs and the economy would go into negative growth, none of that has happened,” he said.
“We’ve increased the number of jobs by half a million and the economy continues to grow. All this scaring, threatening and cajoling really gets people fed up.
“We voted to leave and they don’t want to accept that was very clear at the time.”
Statistics show that in the period from December 2017 to February 2018, there were 427,000 more people working than in the same period a year earlier.
But analysis commissioned by Sadiq Khan in January forecast that a hard Brexit could mean 482,000 fewer jobs, and even a soft Brexit that saw the UK retain some trade ties could decrease jobs by 176,000.
“If we look at the government’s own analysis, it shows leaving the customs union and the single market is going to have a devastating impact on our businesses, jobs and trade relationships,” said Doughty.
“All to be sold off for some fantasy deal with Donald Trump and America.”
The amended bill could return to Commons as quickly as next week.