It is, as always, a pleasure to follow Peter Grant.
I believe that the Prime Minister and the Government deserve the time and the space in which to meet the assurances that they gave the House on 29 January to deliver a legally binding change to the backstop, and to press the Malthouse compromise as an alternative in Brussels. I want the Prime Minister to be able to deliver Brexit, and I want the Government to be able to deliver and make a success of Brexit. I also want it to be crystal clear that the only way we will leave on WTO terms is by the choice of the EU through the intransigence of its approach.
I turn first to today’s amendments. It is telling that all of them are process amendments. None of them stipulate a specific alternative strategic objective of their supporters; none say anything at all about the substance, notwithstanding their criticism of the Government. As a result none offer a credible alternative to the path set out by the Prime Minister, which of course is both written in UK law and reflects international law under the Lisbon treaty, namely that we will leave the EU on 29 March either with a deal, as is being negotiated and as I believe is still possible, or on WTO terms.
We need to make sure we leave the EU on 29 March. We need it for the certainty and clarity businesses require, and we need it for the finality that the public want: an end to the tortuous haggle with Brussels, an end to the distraction and the displacement of all the other activity in this place and in government at large that has inevitably followed Brexit. It seems to me that extending article 50 cannot make any of the problems or challenges that we face easier; it can only make them worse. It is also clear that the EU will not agree unless there is a clear alternative model on the table that is reasonably deliverable within a finite period of time. Of course, some of the objections that have been made—it requires legislation, or it requires the Norway model, or some other whizzy idea that is no doubt being conjured up by thoughtful minds on the Opposition side of the House, and indeed on mine—would require time both to legislate and negotiate. We do not have that time, and the EU would not accept it.