EU Withdrawal Agreement

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 3:57 pm on 18th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Brexit), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Trade) 3:57 pm, 18th December 2018

The Leader of the Opposition and the like-minded Conservative European Research Group say that they have no confidence in the Prime Minister. On these Benches, we have no confidence in the Prime Minister or in her Government, and alas, at present, we have no confidence in the Leader of the Opposition either. The Prime Minister knows full well that no majority can be manufactured in this place for her deal. Other than that, all she seems to know is how to play for time so that the eventual decision will, she hopes, go her way, but there is so little time left, and however much she pleads, her deal fails to command sufficient support.

Yesterday the Prime Minister conceded to my hon. Friend Liz Saville Roberts that it was in her power to seek to extend the article 50 period; President Tusk has said as much. Extending article 50 would give the Prime Minister more time to try to find a way out of this Brexit impasse, not through squeezing her friends but by reaching out across this House and across the countries of the UK so as to avoid the no deal that she herself admits would be disastrous for us. Yesterday, she refused to take that course. Could there be a clearer example of putting narrow party considerations before the pressing need to find a solution that will work for all the people of these islands?

Talking of the people outside this place, much has been made of the potential savings that Brexit would bring. We were told that there would be a bonanza, with billions of pounds to spend, apparently on the NHS. In the autumn of 2017, the Treasury earmarked £3 billion for Brexit, with £250 million in its back pocket in case of no deal. Yesterday, a further £2 billion was allocated to no-deal plans. Irrespective of all that, we know that a no-deal Brexit would wipe £5 billion off the Welsh economy, so the people of Wales, and people across these islands, must be told how much this Westminster Government are willing to spend to bring about the disaster of no deal.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition threatened the Prime Minister with a vote of no confidence, something that only he has the power to do. However, when it came to it, panto came to Westminster at this Christmas time and he tabled his very own special motion of no consequence—[Laughter.] Thank you. If successful, it would at best only continue to prop up this shambolic Government, albeit with a different Prime Minister. It was nothing more than a pretence at opposition from the Leader of the Opposition while refusing to employ the power he actually has.