Uk’S Withdrawal from the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:21 pm on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:21 pm, 27th February 2019

I rise to support amendment (a) in my name and the name of the Leader of the Opposition. It is two weeks since we last voted on a Government Brexit motion, but nothing has changed. The Government are no closer to making progress, and that is clear from the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday and underlined by the absurdly limited motion before us today. The motion tabled by the Prime Minister states that the House “notes” her statement of yesterday and

“notes that discussions between the UK and EU are ongoing.”

The Government do not even dare lay a motion reflecting the decisions of 29 January, as they did last time. They are frightened to lay a motion even setting out what has already been agreed—namely, the so-called Brady amendment —and the rejection by this House of no deal as an acceptable outcome. The statement and motion just seek to buy another two weeks and note what they are doing, all of this with just 30 days to go.

One thing that has changed is the acceptance of the amendment tabled by Alberto Costa. I want to ask some questions about that, because yesterday the Prime Minster appeared to rule out accepting that amendment. This morning, the Home Secretary was before the Home Affairs Committee, and he was questioned by Stuart C. McDonald. The Home Secretary said, “What’s wrong with the amendment? Nothing.” “So is the Government supporting it now?” “Yes, what do you mean ‘now’? When was the Government not supporting it? When did you hear that?” “Yesterday.” “From who?” “The Prime Minister.” “Did you?” [Hon. Members: “Shambles!”] Well, that is a vignette of how Brexit has been going. The question that the House is struggling with is why the hon. Member for South Leicestershire has been forced to resign when the Government are accepting his amendment.

Last time we had this debate, I set out the sorry history of the Government’s delays in recent months, and I do not intend to repeat that.