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Leaving the Eu: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:05 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:05 pm, 22nd October 2018

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting the urgent question.

May I start by saying this: I profoundly disagree with the Prime Minister on a number of issues, including Brexit, but some of the quotes and comments about the Prime Minister this weekend, attributed to Conservative MPs, Ministers or former Ministers, are nothing short of disgraceful. In a time of growing extremism, hostility and threats to those in public life, MPs should know better. The comments are, as ever, from unnamed sources. I hope the House can agree that this kind of language has no place in our politics and has to stop.

Labour has spent 18 months campaigning for a meaningful vote and for Parliament to be properly involved in the Brexit negotiations, yet at every stage the Government’s response has been to push Parliament away. We fear that this is the latest example. Labour is clear that Parliament must be able to express its view on any deal the Prime Minister brings back, yet the Secretary of State’s letter bring that into question. Of course Labour recognises that Parliament will have to approve or disapprove of any Brexit deal—it must be a decisive decision—but it is the role of Parliament, and not the Executive, to decide how that view is to be expressed.

Labour has always believed that Parliament should be able to table, debate and vote on amendments. That is consistent with paragraph 5 of the Government’s own legal advice, which makes it clear that absent a business motion being approved by the House,

“Multiple amendments may be tabled”,

the selection of amendments and the order they are taken in is

“in the hands of the Speaker”,

and that multiple amendments can be selected. I want to be clear that Labour will not support any business motion that does not meet these criteria, and I urge the Secretary of State to think again.