[5th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 3:21 pm on 9th January 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:21 pm, 9th January 2019

I will make some progress and then take further interventions.

The withdrawal agreement is the same document that was before the House when the Prime Minister announced that she was postponing the vote. It is the proposition that she said she thought would be defeated by a significant margin. No changes have been made either to the 584-page, legally binding withdrawal agreement or to the incredibly vague political declaration. There is no new text for this House to consider.

Some of us expected the Prime Minister to make a statement on Monday to tell the House what had happened while we were in recess, to update us on any meetings or discussions that she may have had—we read about them in the press—and to say whether anything had changed. She did not come to make a statement. The Brexit Secretary handled an urgent question, the central thrust of which was about what progress had been made and what changes there had been. The Brexit Secretary defended his position with a smile, attacking the Opposition, as he always does, by asking, “What’s your proposition?” while ignoring the fact that we are voting on the withdrawal agreement, not on what anyone else is saying. He smiled, attacked the Opposition and swerved challenges, but he did not answer the question, and the reason why is that there has been no meaningful change.