[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 thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I do accuse the Government of running down the clock, and it is a serious allegation. The article 50 window is two years—it is very short. The Government started the two years by having a snap general election, and lost two or three months. They then went through to the end of the phase 1 agreement, but it was not until June last year that we even had a Chequers plan, so the two-year window has in effect been run down. There is a question of the extension of article 50, which may well be inevitable now, given the position that we are in, but of course we can only seek it, because the other 27 have to agree.

The other serious question with which I have been engaging is about the appetite of the EU, after the negotiations have gone the way they have, to start again and to fundamentally change what is on the table. I have to say, with regret, that I genuinely think that the way the Government have gone about the negotiations, particularly in respect of the red lines that the Prime Minister laid down in the first place, has undermined a lot of the good will that would otherwise have been there.