UK’s Withdrawal from the EU

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 2:06 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee 2:06 pm, 14th February 2019

I agree with my hon. Friend that the Prime Minister has to change her red lines, particularly around the customs union but in other areas as well, because they are preventing any change and any proper debate on the way forward. Instead, she appears to be trying to create a sense of crisis and chaos in the final two weeks, during which Parliament and the EU will be locked in a game of chicken in which we will be forced to choose between the huge damage of no deal and a deal that has already been strongly rejected by this Parliament. That is not a responsible way to make decisions. It is not a responsible way for any Parliament to operate, and it is certainly not a responsible way for this Government to operate. They have a responsibility to keep us safe, to make sure that the sick can get their medicines and to make sure that the poorest people in this country can afford the price of food. The Government have a responsibility to do things in an effective way, not to create chaos because they cannot get a bad deal through.

We have put forward a revised Bill. Under the proposals, if we get to the middle of March and we still have no deal in place, the Prime Minister will have to choose whether she wants the default to be no deal or an extension of article 50 to give her more time to sort this out. That would have to be put to Parliament, giving Parliament the opportunity to avert no deal on 29 March and the chance to say that the Government’s approach is just not working. It will not have worked if we reach that date without a deal in place. The problem is that if we do not do something sensible like this, we will be living in a fantasy world in which people talk about alternative arrangements and say that everything will be fine and someone will come along and sort it all out, even though none of that will happen.