It is a pleasure finally to be able to resume this debate.
Thirty days ago, on
“went ahead and held the vote”,
which was due to take place the next day,
“the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.” —[Official Report,
Vol. 651, c. 23.]
That was her judgment call. She said that she would do everything possible “to secure further assurances”, particularly over the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop.
The Leader of the House went further, saying:
“going back to the EU and seeking reassurances, in the form of legally binding reassurances” was
“absolutely doing the right thing”.
The implication was that this was a pause to allow further assurances—legally binding reassurances, according to the Leader of the House. The International Trade Secretary, with his usual foresight, said:
“It is very difficult to support the deal if we don’t get changes to the backstop.
That was his assessment.
Those were senior members of the Cabinet, indicating to Parliament and to the country that the deal, the proposition before the House, needed to be changed if it were to be voted on and not defeated by a substantial majority. They were, of course, challenged. They were challenged on the basis that this was just a way of delaying and avoiding a humiliating defeat, and they were running down the clock. Now, 30 days on, those rebuttals ring hollow.
The Prime Minister is often mocked for saying that nothing has changed, but this time nothing has changed. The proposition before the House today is the same proposition as the one that the Prime Minister put before the House on