UK’s Withdrawal from the EU

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 12:49 pm, 14th February 2019

As I have said from this Dispatch Box, so far as the extension is concerned, it obviously depends on the period and the period the EU has indicated might be available is the period till 1 July, because that would avoid involvement in the parliamentary elections. It is not our policy to participate in the parliamentary elections——[Interruption.] For obvious reasons, we will not be—[Interruption.] This is a really serious point. There is this casualness about no deal—that we can somehow, in a macho way, march off the cliff and it will all be fine; it will be so good for the country. The point is that if, by 13 March—just over two weeks before the potential for no deal—there is no deal, we have to take action if we are serious about avoiding the calamity and catastrophe of no deal. I do not mind standing up here and saying that I will take whatever steps are necessary to avoid no deal, because I will never be persuaded—never—that it is a good negotiating tactic or could possibly be good for our country.

The House will then need to debate and vote on credible options to prevent no deal. We have been clear that those options are either the close economic relationship that includes a customs union and close alignment to the single market that we set out in the letter to the Prime Minister, or a public vote on a deal or proposition that can command the support of the House. There are no other credible options remaining, and those options are miles away from the approach that the Government are currently taking. First, though, we need to stop the Government further running down the clock, put in a hard stop and allow this House to take control of the process. That is what today is about and I urge all Members to support our amendment.