European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield 4:27 pm, 29th January 2019

No, I am going to make some progress, if I may.

In those circumstances, we have to find a way forward. Throughout the times that I have tabled amendments for this House to consider, I have tried to avoid objectives and look at process. Frankly, we could do with more days of debate of this sort unless or until we reach agreement. Of course, if we do reach agreement, with this amendment we can have another business of the House motion and we will just drop the remaining sitting days. It is rather sensible to set aside six days between now and the end of March when this House can debate, free of the interference of government, which I have to say I am afraid has sought consistently to restrict debate into an absolute straitjacket of what it wanted to hear and nothing else. If we have those days, it will help us, just as we are actually starting to tease out this afternoon, to make a little bit of progress towards compromise.

Of course my views are well known about the desirability of a further referendum, and I will come back to them right at the end, but I am perfectly aware that many Members in this House do not agree with that, even if they also share my regret at what we are doing in leaving the EU. But that in no way diminishes for me the value of these days, and I agree entirely with the Father of the House and with my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin that the idea that this is some constitutional abomination simply does not bear scrutiny; we are in control of our Standing Orders and changing them in this way to get the debates we need is entirely in keeping with the traditions of this House and the fact that the Government, in this area, simply do not enjoy the majority that some Governments have normally used to suppress it.