European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:51 pm on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:51 pm, 29th January 2019

The first step in all this is for the House to make clear what it wants to see in relation to changes. The hon. Gentleman says that he wants me to get on with it and actually talk about what I want to talk about. If he were not jumping up and down all the time, I might be able to get on with it.

Let me now turn to the amendments from my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve and Yvette Cooper. I understand the concerns that led to the tabling of the amendments, but I have the most profound doubts about the consequences to which they would lead.

Both amendments seek to create and exploit mechanisms that would allow Parliament to usurp the proper role of the Executive. Such actions would be unprecedented, and could have far-reaching and long-term implications for the way in which the United Kingdom is governed and the balance of powers and responsibilities in our democratic institutions. I am sure that, as former Ministers of the Crown, both Members must know that. So, while I do not question their sincerity in trying to avoid a no-deal Brexit, to seek to achieve that through such means is, I believe, deeply misguided, and not a responsible course of action.

Furthermore, neither amendment actually delivers on the best way of avoiding no deal, which is, as I have said, for the House to approve a deal with the European Union. The amendment tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend would see six full days given over to debates and votes on alternative plans, on which we could have voted today. With just 59 days left before we are due to leave the European Union, the way in which to deliver Brexit and avoid a no deal is to focus all our energies and time on getting a revised deal that both the House and the European Union can agree to support.