As you can read, there is no provision in the above bill for Parliament to have ANY oversight of what the Tories are doing once they trigger Article 50 and there is no provision for Parliament to have any influence over what the Tories do after they trigger Article 50. The British public (you and me) will have no ability to influence the direction Britain takes after the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 is passed (and IT WILL PASS because the Tories government have the majority they need to pass it, regardless of whether Labour or anyone else vote against it). The British public (you and me) will have no way to hold the Tories to account until 2020.
So what are the current politics surrounding those half dozen lines of text? Well, the Labour leadership have proposed amendments to the above bill. If the Tories reject Labour’s amendments then Conservative MPs have a choice to make, they can continue to support the government in passing the bill or they can rebel. The ONLY current way to defeat the bill and to stop the triggering of Article 50 is if Conservative MPs vote against it and they will not.
If the Tories accept Labour’s amendments and Labour vote with the Tories to pass the bill then there is a very good chance that we could see some Conservative MPs voting against the bill in the final vote but only because they know the bill will be passed with Labour’s votes. It would create a situation where Labour’s current ‘rebel’ MPs can point at the dissenting Conservatives and wail that, if only the Labour leadership had not sided with the Tories, the bill could have been defeated. A position that conveniently ignores the fact that there would be no rebel Conservative MPs if Labour weren’t also voting to pass the bill. Essentially, it would be a scenario to continue the attempts to undermine the current Labour leadership. It’s politics. The important thing is to secure the amendments so that we have protections and oversight.
Scenario (1): Labour and the other opposition parties vote against the bill. The Tories vote for the bill and the bill is passed with the half dozen lines of text, and they proceed with triggering Article 50 and conducting the affairs of negotiations etc in secret under Theresa May’s terms.
Scenario (2): Labour exchange their commitment to support the bill with the Tories for their amendments. The Tories accept. Article 50 is triggered and, over the next few years, we can view what is being negotiated in our name and Parliament can hold the Tories to account. Britain’s position with their EU neighbours can be openly and properly assessed and the best interests of Britain can be worked towards.
Scenario (3): The Tories reject Labour’s amendments and things continue as Scenario (1).
Scenario (4): The Tories reject the amendments and gamble that Conservative MPs do not rebel. If sufficient Conservative MPs make their intentions clear they will rebel, before the vote, then Labour will have to decide whether to vote with the Conservative MPs and defeat the government’s bill or to proceed to support a bill that they know does not act in the best interests of the British public.
Scenario (5): The Tories accept Labour’s amendments, Labour support the bill, a few Conservative MPs vote against, the bill is passed with the joint Tory/Labour votes. Britain continues as Scenario (2) but those who have been attempting to wrest control of Labour will continue their efforts. That is a gamble the current Labour leadership are taking; providing fuel for Labour’s entryists. Thankfully, it appears that the current leadership are putting the public’s interests ahead of any risk that they might face.