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 going to make some progress, if I may.

Yet in her statement last night, the Prime Minister said that the joint instrument guaranteed that the EU could not act with the intent of applying the backstop indefinitely. The EU has never expressed that intent, and the Prime Minister has never accused them of having it. The Prime Minister has constructed one enormous great big gigantic attractive paper tiger, and then slain it. However, the substance already existed through article 178(5) of the withdrawal agreement, agreed in November. Truly, nothing has changed.

The Prime Minister also claims that the joint instrument entrenches the January exchange of letters in legally binding form. On 14 January, from the Dispatch Box, the Prime Minister told the House that those letters had “legal standing”, and would have

“legal force in international law".—[Official Report, 14 January 2019;
Vol. 652, c. 833.]

We are back with smoke and mirrors—the illusion of change, when the reality is that nothing has changed. It is all is spin and no substance from the Prime Minister.