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

I am not quite sure what that intervention adds to the debate. There was a referendum in 1975; yes, I voted in that referendum. There was another referendum in 2016; yes, I voted in that referendum as well, and I campaigned to remain in and reform the European Union.

The Government are having real problems, because they are trying to fool the people into believing that, somehow or other, the deal offered by the Prime Minister is the only one that is available. It is not, as they well know.

Let us look closely at the Government’s own motion. It is a case study in weasel words and obfuscation. It states that

“the legally binding joint instrument... reduces the risk the UK could be deliberately held in the Northern Ireland backstop indefinitely”.

There are two key words there, First, the joint instrument only “reduces” the risk rather than eliminating it, so it has completely failed to achieve its goal. I have an ally in believing that to be the case—no less a person than the Attorney General, who told the press at the weekend:

“I will not change my opinion unless we have a text that shows the risk has been eliminated.”

And indeed, his legal opinion today states that

“the legal risk remains unchanged”.