Martin Callanan is a Minister of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union. He is a former MEP for the North East of England, and former Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists.
This year we’ve hit the ground running.
We have built on the momentum our exit negotiations achieved in December by setting out the terms for the next phase.
And in Parliament, after over 80 hours of debate, the EU Withdrawal Bill successfully made its way through the House of Commons. People, whichever way they voted, can be reassured that Brexit is on track.
Now all eyes turn to the peers in the House of Lords, who will provide another round of intense scrutiny.
It is a significant moment in the passage of this crucial Bill, which will guarantee that whatever the outcome of the negotiations, our law books will be in good shape on the day we leave.
It takes us another step closer to giving businesses and citizens reassurance that as far as possible the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before, with control over them handed back to the UK Parliament.
Doing so is the sole purpose of this Bill. It is not – as some have suggested – a vehicle for pursuing policy changes. It is not about the shape or type of Brexit we deliver. But this is a complex task – taking four decades’ worth of EU law and converting it into domestic law is not straightforward. It is essential that we get this right.
Over the last seven months, our ministerial team at DExEU has been guiding the Bill’s passage through the House of Commons. This has involved close work with MPs from across the political spectrum, to clarify misconceptions around the Bill’s intentions and make meaningful improvements to it where we can.
Naturally, many have strong views on how we leave the EU. But we must be clear. The British people voted to leave and we are delivering on their will. They voted to take back control of our money, our laws and our borders.
With that in mind, the goals of this Bill are goals everyone should support. It is simply a way of making sure things work.
From the beginning we have been clear that we need – and indeed want – to adopt a collaborative approach and listen to the views of Parliamentarians from all sides of the House. The necessity and sheer scope of this legislation means that thorough debate and examination is more important than ever.
We took this approach in the House of Commons and we will continue to do so in the Lords.
We have been working tirelessly to balance the concerns of MPs and their constituents with the need to be ready for exit day.
We have heard from MPs across the House and listened closely to many hours of debate. But we’re not done yet.
Earlier this month the Bill successfully passed through the first stage of its close examination in the Commons, as MPs voted in favour of sending the Bill on to the House of Lords.
The House of Lords has a well-deserved reputation for its detailed and thorough scrutiny.
This Bill should be no exception – it will benefit from the forensic examination the Lords can bring and we look forward to that razor-sharp review.
Understandably, there has been a great deal of interest in this Bill in recent weeks, and I have been meeting individually with peers to lay out our clear objectives.
Already, we have extended the time allocated for debate, with peers set to sit longer on both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. And that’s before we enter ten days of more detailed debate next month.
This demonstrates the importance we place on giving all peers a chance to engage with the detail of this Bill.
I have no doubt that my colleagues in the House will give this monumental piece of legislation the due diligence it deserves.
The Bill will return to the House of Commons again later this year for further examination by MPs and they will ensure the Bill is fit to deliver on the ambitious Brexit we have committed to.
In truth, nothing could be more important. We have an incredible change ahead of us but if we continue to work together, we will be ready when it comes.