Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 5:29 pm, 28th January 2019

I am very grateful to the right hon. Lady for giving way. I do not wish to launch any type of personal criticism of her, as she has actually been making an extremely coherent, root-and-branch criticism of the Bill, and she has an excellent record on these things. The problem is that we are meant to be debating whether this House of Commons should approve the Second Reading of a Bill. She has denounced it from beginning to end but says that the official Opposition do not intend to vote against it. That makes the proceedings quite absurd.

The right hon. Lady is in the same position as the Home Secretary, who could think of no reason why any group coming under existing EU law should be reduced, except that we have to say that we are against freedom of movement. All the right hon. Lady can say to explain her Front-Bench colleagues’ extraordinary decision—I suspect it was not hers—is that they must be seen to be saying that they are against freedom of movement. That is no way to legislate, and it demeans her speech.