Clive Lewis resigns as BEIS Shadow Secretary as MPs approve Brexit bill

Labour MP Clive Lewis has stepped down from his role as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Shadow Secretary due to opposition to the Government's approved bill to withdraw the UK from the European Union (EU).

The bill was passed through overwhelmingly in Westminster last night (8 February), by 494 votes to 122, to keep the UK on track to meet its self-imposed deadline to trigger Article 50 and begin the Brexit negotiations by the end of March.

Lewis, who had been in the role since October last year, resigns after Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to enforce a second three-line whip on the third reading of the Brexit bill.

His resignation statement read: “Our Party, the Labour Party, was right to attempt, through Parliament, to win the protection the people of this country need. Unfortunately, despite the progress we did make, we have been unable to secure them.

“It is therefore with a very heavy heart that I have decided to resign from the Shadow Cabinet. I do so because I feel I must vote against the Government’s bill as it stands.”

‘Hammer blow’

During his tenure, the Norwich South MP unveiled ambitious proposals to source 65% of the UK’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030 and ramp up the rate of domestic energy efficiency programme. Last month, Lewis launched the Labour Party’s consultation with businesses, trade unions and the public about the priorities of its proposed Industrial Strategy.

His decision to step down comes a week after Shadow Defra Secretary Rachael Maskell resigned from the Shadow Cabinet – citing a lack of a clear climate action plan in the Government’s Brexit strategy. The Government’s much-anticipated Brexit White Paper document, does however, provide assurances that the nation will remain a “leading actor” on climate change and environmental policy post-Brexit.

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, who commended Lewis for his opposition to the Brexit bill, last night slammed MPs that voted in favour of the paper for failing to recognise the environmental “dangers” of the UK’s impending EU departure.

“Tonight’s vote is a hammer blow for those of us trying to defend our communities against the dangers of an extreme Brexit,” Lucas said. “We’ve received no reassurances on environmental protections, EU nationals’ status here or the role of Parliament or the public in the post-referendum process.

She continued: “The fight against an extreme Brexit does not stop here. As the co-leader of a Party which stands for environmental, social and economic justice I will oppose all moves which threaten to turn this country into a tax haven or endanger our hard won rights.”

George Ogleby

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