Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:45 pm, 13th March 2017

I will make some progress because lots of Members want to speak, and the more I give way now, the more irritating it is for those who want to make their own contribution.

The Government are about to embark on the most complex and challenging undertaking of any British Government since the second world war. The decision the Government make and the deals they strike will have profound consequences for almost every aspect of British life. It is therefore essential that the Government do not fail or take the country down the wrong path. Starting negotiations by guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals and ending negotiations with a meaningful vote will help guard against that fate.

Let me turn to the amendment on EU nationals. My question for the Secretary of State and for the Government is this: what is the problem? This is not about delay. The way to prevent delay is to accept the amendment and get on with it. The purpose of the amendment is to bring forward proposals

“Within three months of exercising the power” to trigger article 50. The Secretary of State says that we want an early deal—well, if it is within three months, there is no problem with the amendment. The amendment only affects the Government’s approach if they do not get an early deal. That is why it is so important. To portray this as a delaying tactic is not to read the amendment and not to appreciate what it says: that the purpose is to bring forward proposals “Within three months”.