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


We should not indulge the amendment from the Leader of the Opposition. First he wanted a comprehensive customs union, then it was a new customs union and now it is a permanent customs union. Last week I asked him whether he means accepting the common external tariff, accepting the common commercial policy, accepting the Union customs code, or accepting EU state aid rules: he had no answers then; he has no answers now; he hasn’t got a clue. He is still facing both ways on whether Labour would keep freedom of movement, and last night he whipped his MPs to oppose the Bill that would end free movement and introduce a skills-based system. And he is still facing both ways on a second referendum: his amendment calls for legislation for a public vote, but we still do not know whether he would use it or what the question would be.

I know that many Labour voters and MPs, and others in the Labour movement, are frustrated by the Leader of the Opposition’s approach. It is surely time for him to step up to the responsibility of being Leader of the Opposition and finally sit down with me and talk about how we can secure support in this House for a deal. As I said last week, he has been willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA without preconditions; it is time he did something in our national interest, not against it.