Uk’S Withdrawal from the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:12 pm on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 2:12 pm, 27th February 2019

No. I am conscious that I am disappointing a number of hon. Friends and other hon. Members, but otherwise there is a danger that my speech and associated interventions are going to take up pretty well all the time available for debate today.

I will move on to amendment (k) and then amendment (a). Amendment (k), in the name of the leader of the Scottish National party in Westminster, wills certain ends without any means. It asserts a determination not to leave the European Union without a withdrawal agreement and future framework under any circumstances and regardless of any exit date. It is therefore asserting a power to override what is actually in the European Union treaties but can have no effect in terms of European law and the implications of the article 50 process. While I understand the political motives behind amendment (k), the problem with it is that it ignores the legal reality that, once article 50 has been triggered, the only ways in which to avoid what the amendment seeks to avoid are to agree a deal or to revoke article 50 altogether and commit this country permanently—in good faith, to use the terms of the Court of Justice judgment—to membership of the European Union for the future. For those reasons, the Government cannot accept it.

I have also seen and studied the amendment tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. I would urge Opposition Members to look at what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in her reply to the right hon. Gentleman, because on each of the five points detailed in the amendment, I believe the Government’s deal provides the right answer for the people of the United Kingdom. Let me briefly take each of those five points in turn. First, the amendment instructs Ministers to seek a permanent—