MPs will today vote on the first part of the EU Bill - the so-called sovereignty clause, which stipulates that EU law exists only by virtue of an Act of Parliament. Some Tory MPs have opposed this clause on grounds that the explanatory notes of the Bill states that it reinforces the “common law principle” that EU law takes effect through the will of Parliament – which implies that judges could at some point take it away (since common law is effectively decided by judges).
As we've noted in previous posts, the clause itself, however, clarifies - and arguably strengthens - the notion that Parliament holds sovereignty over EU law. If allowed to stand alone, this can be no bad thing. So much of the fuss is in fact about the explanatory note, which can easily be changed (MPs may of course feel that the Government should do a lot more to address the current balance of power between the EU and UK - and they would be right - but let's take one battle at a time).
We now hear that Europe Minister David Lidington, sensibly, has written to backbench MPs saying that the Government will change the wording of the explanatory note to remove the confusing reference to 'common law'. There's therefore little reason to be nervous about the sovereignty clause.
With this change out of the way, MPs should now focus all their efforts on making the referendum lock - the second part of the Bill (to be discussed tonight, if there's time, and in more depth in a week or two) as strong as possible. As we've argued before, a strong referendum lock could substantially strengthen day-to-day control Parliamentary over EU laws.
Read more from us here and here.