Yes,the referendum was in part about taking back control. That means restoring to Parliament the sovereignty that it yielded, and continued to yield over the years to the other members of the EU. All that EU legislation that was never scrutinised by our Parliament but became our law! But we will not recover our sovereignty until we are well and truly out of the organisation. No matter how much MPs brandish their rebellions right now – no matter how many amendments they table apparently designed to delay our exit from the EU indefinitely, the gestures are pointless. Take first, the Grieve amendment, to give MPs a determining vote on the final deal before it takes effect. Naive or Machiavellian? The “deal” will no doubt run to thousands of pages, and some will approve of some of it and others dislike other parts: we are unlikely to regard the whole deal as entirely good or bad. So the vote will be based on an impression. Worse still, if the deal is voted down in Parliament, what do the objectors think is going to happen? Even if Mrs May returned to Brussels in the few weeks that might remain before 29 March 2019, there is no chance that the other 27 members will go back to the negotiating table in order to craft a deal that is more acceptable to the MPs. In fact, they have already said that they would not. They will do nothing – and sit back to enjoy our dilemma over take it or leave it, deal as is, or no deal at all. That is because until 29 March 2019, we have no sovereignty, no control – we are in the power of the 27, who have their reasons for not wishing us well. Votes in Parliament on the deal will be no more than spitting in the wind.
The same applies to the amendment to remove the date of 29 March from the Bill. What is the point of that, since the Art 50 exit process, for which MPs voted, stipulates that membership of the EU ends two years after initiation of the withdrawal process? Can it be lawfully possible for our membership to end, as it must from the point of view of the EU, on 29 March, and for the UK still to regard itself as a member that has not exited, for some unspecified period beyond that date? Not without the agreement of the other 27, however long that might take to reach. Conversely, since 29 March has to be the legal date for exit, there was little gain in enshrining it. The ineffectual nature of that delaying amendment (latest news is that the date will be expressed flexibly) is just another example of how we have lost sovereignty and cannot “take back control” until after 29.3.19. A transition period will only put back that day. The amendments are just so much posturing. How odd that some MPs are trying to stymie the restoration of sovereignty by taking its name in vain.