European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 5:04 pm on 12th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah Conservative, East Surrey 5:04 pm, 12th March 2019

I thank my right hon. Friend for that point. I am running out of time, so I will have to move on very quickly.

The issue with the political declaration is that, after 29 March, we have no idea what happens. We have no strategy and no plan. What the Prime Minister has said is that she will consult this House on a mandate for negotiation, but if her red lines still exist, how will this House agree on a mandate for negotiation as far as the political declaration and our future are concerned? I cannot see how that is possible given that, today, we know that there is no majority for any of those options in this House.

We know that there are some in this House who would rather that we diverge as far from the EU as we can and go cap in hand to an America First President for that free trade deal. Is there a majority for that in this House? We are setting sail, or we are being encouraged to set sail, with no idea about the future. By August, we will have to decide what our negotiating position is for the 21-month period, because another clock starts ticking after 29 March. The longer that we take to work out our negotiating position, the more we eat into our own negotiating time. Very quickly, this House will have to decide whether it wants to get closer to the EU, whether it wants to diverge a bit more, or whether it wants to be somewhere in the middle. Whenever anyone asks this question, they are told, “You are trying to frustrate Brexit.” The truth is that leaving somewhere and going somewhere are not the same thing. We can all leave this Chamber, and two of us could go in completely different directions. We need to understand where we are going, which is why, for me, extending article 50, pausing and reflecting and working that out, is important.

The scene that we have seen over the past few months of Brexit Ministers having to buy a frequent pass on the Eurostar to go to Brussels to secure a concession will be played out time and time again, because we will have left with our hands tied behind our back and everything we want will come at a price. How would we have taken control on behalf of our constituents if that is what happens?