European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Chair, Conservative Party 1922 Committee 5:00 pm, 29th January 2019

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for calling me. I think Sir Vince Cable should beware that, while perhaps not wishing to do so, he may sometimes be talking up the possibility of panic and spreading gloom and despondency unnecessarily. I have a short time available to me, but I will take less than the six minutes if I possibly can, because my points are few and simple.

In the more than 21 years since I have been in the House, I have to say that this is the first time I have experienced tabling an amendment and then winning the support of a Prime Minister for it. In her opening remarks, the Prime Minister did of course mention amendment (n). I rise to support the amendment that stands in my name and those of my hon. Friend Dr Murrison, the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee—elected, of course, by the whole House—and my right hon. Friend Damian Green, as well as many others on both sides of the House.

I will oppose the amendments that seek to delay the article 50 process and those that might rule out some of the options. I do so without any suggestion that these are necessarily deliberately intended to damage the process of Brexit, but I think they carry considerable dangers in them. Those who seek to delay the process risk removing the pressure point or decision point—the moment of decision—that is bringing greater focus to the negotiations at this point. It has been palpable in the last couple of weeks that we have seen more evidence of flexibility from the EU side in the negotiations and a greater willingness to look at how it might assist the United Kingdom to come to an arrangement with which we can agree that can take us out of the European Union in an orderly and managed way. There is a real danger in that.