European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 4:03 pm on 12th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Chair, Treasury Committee 4:03 pm, 12th March 2019

I am not going to give way.

There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I firmly believe that the country has, by and large, reached acceptance. Many Members of this House have reached acceptance of the referendum result, but some clearly have not, as we hear time and again. It is time to move on. It is time to draw the withdrawal phase of this EU exit to a conclusion. There are many other political issues that the country desperately needs us to be talking about and focusing on, and yet here we are, time and again debating the same issues. As the Brady amendment showed at the end of January, the issue is around the backstop, but we are all debating and falling out over a backstop that is an insurance policy that everybody hopes is never needed, to solve a problem—a hard border on the island of Ireland—that nobody wants to see.

For me, there are a number of tests of whether this withdrawal agreement should be approved tonight. I have set those tests out in a letter that I will send to my constituents shortly. Does the withdrawal agreement, if passed, lead to greater certainty? I believe the answer is yes. It will at least enable businesses and individuals in our constituencies to plan ahead, certainly with regard to the transition period. Does it deliver on the exit from the EU that the majority of the United Kingdom voted for in 2016? The answer is yes. It gets us closer to leaving the European Union. There are Members on both sides of the House who have campaigned for that for years, and yet they say they will not vote for the deal this evening.

Does the withdrawal agreement enable the governing party to carry on governing after 29 March and pass legislation? Yes, it does. If a stable majority were to pass the withdrawal agreement, would that mean we could pass the withdrawal implementation Bill and all the other legislation? And that is my problem with the challenge laid down by Opposition Members about why the Government do not make an appeal to them. Although I think a compromise and a consensus could be found in the House on a so-called softer Brexit, it will not lead to anything like a stable majority for future legislation. I have heard nothing that promises that from those on the Opposition Benches.