Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:17 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 3:17 pm, 11th December 2018

I do understand the risks that the hon. Lady raises, but the Government should have thought much earlier about what they were doing. She knows, and she cannot deny the fact, that for two years Ministers have bickered and argued, which is part of the reason we are running out of time. It was not until July 2018 that the Government finally came forward and said what they wanted to ask of the European Union after two years. We cannot undo that, and I am trying to focus on the future and on what we will have to do next.

There are those in this House who will object to either of those courses of action because they believe that we should leave without a deal, but they need to make up their mind. I am not sure whether they want a Canada-style Brexit, as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office said. Is it an orderly WTO Brexit? But he drew attention to the damage that would do, such as to our manufacturing industry and our car industry. What kind of side deals? How will the Government agree them? Or is it the rush out, slam the door and shout over our shoulder as we depart, “You can forget about the money!” kind of Brexit that we have heard advocated by certain Conservative Members?

My final point is that we are running out of time. That is why the Prime Minister needs to come back here next week and give us a chance to vote on her deal, because the sooner the House can pass judgment on it—and if it is defeated—the sooner we can get on to the task we will then face. Only when we have done that can we face up to the hard choices. As I have told the House before, all of us in this Chamber will have to compromise if we are to find a way through the mess that our country is now in.