EU Exit: Article 50

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 10th December 2018.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 7:30 pm, 10th December 2018

As I have listened to today’s proceedings, the chances of the Government ever getting their withdrawal agreement approved by this House seem to me to be quite slight. I cannot think of any assurances the Prime Minister will get in Brussels that would change that most unfortunate situation.

I am sad that the whole thing has not been contrived to save the House from my making a speech tomorrow, in which I would have supported the withdrawal agreement. The situation is grave because, with no withdrawal agreement, we are going towards 29 March and we will leave with no agreement at all, because there are no signs of any alternative emerging. Article 50 has to be looked at.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that article 50 could only be suspended for two or three months? There are legal problems in deferring it any longer. Although the majority of Members regard themselves as bound by the opinion poll, or referendum, we held in 2016, in which absolutely none of the circumstances we are now talking about were remotely discussed with the public before the vote was taken, is it not obvious that the Government should start considering revoking article 50 to save us from the disastrous consequences of leaving with no deal? It would be disastrous for our economy, our businesses, our employment and many other things. If anybody can ever put this shambles back together again and wants to resume the process of leaving the European Union, they could go ahead and see if a future House of Commons is more receptive than this one has been.