European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:37 pm on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 4:37 pm, 29th January 2019

I think we all realise that today’s debate is predominantly about process, but that cannot hide one essential truth: we are facing a crisis; our country is in a state of suspended animation because of that crisis; and the intemperate nature of the debate—partly here today and certainly outside the Chamber—is a consequence of that crisis, because in truth every single one of us present is anxious about what is going to happen to our country.

Following the defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement and political declaration, she said that she would reach out, and I welcomed that, although it would have been much better had it been done two years ago. We now know that she is not for turning on the political declaration but seeks somehow to change the backstop. I am all for optimism, but I somehow doubt that the EU is for turning on this issue either. Unless the Prime Minister knows something that we do not, I do not see how it is going to be changed.