European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 3:00 pm, 12th March 2019

After three months of running down the clock, the Prime Minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the withdrawal agreement: not one single word has changed. In terms of the substance, literally nothing has changed.

On 29 January, the Prime Minister backed an amendment tabled by Sir Graham Brady, which called for the backstop

“to be replaced with alternative arrangements”.

On 12 February, the Prime Minister said that the Government were seeking three potential changes to the backstop:

“a legally binding time limit…
a legally binding unilateral exit clause”,

or

“the ideas put forward by the Alternative Arrangements Working Group”.—[Official Report, 12 February 2019;
Vol. 654, c. 731.]

There is no unilateral exit mechanism, there is no time limit, and there are no alternative arrangements.

So let us be clear: the withdrawal agreement is unchanged, the political declaration is unchanged, the joint statement is a legal interpretation of what is in the withdrawal agreement, and the unilateral statement is the UK Government trying to fool their own Back Benchers, because the European Union has not even signed up to it.